The Legislature adjourned, Sine Die


March 12, 2018

Warnick floorGreetings from Olympia,

The 2018 legislative session concluded on time, March 8. The short sessions are an opportunity to develop what’s referred to as a supplemental budget. The state budgets on two-year cycles, called a biennial budget, which we adopted last year and takes us through 2019. The supplemental budget is supposed to be an opportunity to make some minor adjustments and tweaks to the budget to meet any emergent needs. However, the majority Democrats had some other ideas. With over $2 billion in unexpected revenue, there was a strong push to spend those resources on growing government.

Early on, we approved a solution for the flawed Hirst decision to allow rural property owners to drill a well. That was a holdover from the 2017 legislative session.  If you recall, the state was without a capital budget for a year as we worked through a solution. It was a hard-fought victory for rural Washington that required significant investments through the state’s construction budget to pay for water-related projects. That issue was one of the biggest challenges of my legislative career, but one that my colleagues and I believed had to be addressed, and one that urban legislators paid little attention to. You can read more about the resolution of Hirst by clicking here.

Education and the budget 

Although the state Supreme Court agreed that the education funding plan that was approved last year will fulfill our McCleary obligations, they were unhappy with the timeline. They’ve decided that the state should put in about an extra billion dollars one year earlier. Our strong economy and surprise revenue growth have meant we can make that investment on time.

That said, one-party control in Olympia has meant very different budgets for our state. While Republicans resisted urges to raise or create new taxes, the same can’t be said for my colleagues across the aisle. With significant unexpected revenue, I believe that we should have returned that money to the taxpayers in the form of property tax relief.

Many are concerned, and rightly so, about the spike in this year’s property tax bills to fund education. I understand the frustration. The plan that was adopted last year included a prolonged phase-in at the behest of legislative Democrats, which resulted in an overlap and temporary increase in property taxes.

The good news is that we limited how much local dollars can be levied, and the result is more funding to schools, and over 70 percent of property owners will see a net decrease in the property taxes in 2019.

We voted on an education bill in the Senate and tried to adopt an amendment to provide $1 billion in property tax relief, but the majority Democrats voted against it. And again, other proposals diverted $700 million from the voter-approved Rainy Day Fund to direct that money to growing government while providing meager property-tax relief in the year when we don’t need it!

The latest budget approved by the majority continues to put special interests and government growth ahead of struggling citizens. I did not vote for the final supplemental budget as the gimmicks and taxes were unnecessary and sets what the state Treasurer called “a dangerous precedent.”

bulldozerInvesting in our community

In addition to the operating budget, we also approved this year’s supplemental transportation and capital budgets. These provide needed investments in local community projects, as well as improvements to our district’s transportation system. Here are some of the transportation projects that are funded in our district:

  • Park & Ride improvement at I-90 and Golf Course Road – $21,000
  • Columbia Basin Railroad Projects – $785,000
  • County Road Bridge Replacement Study for OGWRP – $100,000
  • Port of Moses Lake Hangar Expansion Planning & Design – $200,000

You can view the complete list here.

Projects in the supplemental capital budget include:

  • Roslyn Community and Cultural Center – $523,000
  • Damman School in Ellensburg – $1.27 million
  • Fair Safety and Access for Ellensburg and Grant County – $600,000

Click here to see a full list of projects in our district.

It is an honor to serve as your state Senator. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your state government.


Judy Warnick,

Your State Senator