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Budget notes: the devil is in the detail

The budget is a big document that moves quickly at the end of session. Few have access to the totality of the 814-page document until it’s finalized.

During the budget process, some of which I detail here, the best advocates are able to earn narrow wins for their clients or their sector. When aggregated together, the budget takes on a feel of something more systemic and comprehensive.

In reality, however, a budget is amalgam of disparate interests and advocacy efforts that pull together a string of specific investments.

I’ve only started to dig through the budget notes from this year’s supplemental.

However, Jason Mercier from the Washington Policy Center sent me this run down of items that, as he says, are “not likely to get much attention in the legislative press releases.”

This is his list of notables, copied with permission from his note to me.

  • $250k for yet another state bank study.
  • Budget continues to provide $353k to Governor for Snake River dams breaching study though report is now complete.
  • Don’t see the aerospace tax break repeal revenue assumed in balance sheet.
  • Budget provides $600k due to “extraordinary judicial costs arising” from superior court judge in the Asotin-Columbia-Garfield court on long-term leave. Is this the judge?
  • Budget goes with the much higher reduction proposed by House for Governor’s “protection unit costs.” $966,000 down from current $2,003,000.
  • Hope you enjoyed your pick a party presidential primary. Taxpayers paid $13,600,000 for it.
  • $75k to @secstatewa “to support the capacity for the retention and transition of historical and archived records from the national archives and records administration located at Sandpoint.”
  • $1,069,000 “to compel the United States department of energy to meet Hanford cleanup deadlines.”
  • $600k to @WAStateCommerce to “develop a comprehensive analysis of statewide emissions reduction strategies.”
  • Budget provides $350k to @WAStateCommerce to “convene a work group to review and make recommendations for legislation to update the growth management act”
  • Budget provides some nonprofit in City of Tacoma $250,000 to “provide a public policy fellowship program that offers training in grassroots organizing, leadership development, civic engagement, and policy engagement focused on Latino and indigenous community members.”
  • $200k to “study incorporating the unincorporated communities of Fredrickson, Midland, North Clover Creek, Collins, Parkland, Spanaway, Summit-Waller, and Summit View into a single city.”
  • Although budget doesn’t assume revenue from aerospace tax break repeal, it provides $240,000 for the aerospace workforce council created by the bill if adopted.
  • “$50,948,000 of the family and medical leave insurance account state appropriation is provided solely to increase staffing levels and funding for the paid family medical leave program in order to align with projected business needs.”
  • $2,339,000 of the model toxics control operating account—is provided solely “to strengthen and standardize the consideration of climate change risks, vulnerability, and greenhouse gas emissions in environmental assessments for major projects with significant environmental impacts.”
  • $325k of dedicated performance audit account given to DNR to “conduct a zero-based budget and performance review of its resource protection program. The review shall be specifically focused on the wildfire program operating budget and activities.”
  • $75,000 of the general fund state “is provided solely for the office of the superintendent of public instruction to develop a list of curriculum and supplemental curriculum supports that align with the K-12 health education standards in order to support teaching emotional, mental, and behavioral health in schools.”
  • $100k to study providing students “an opt-out insurance plan for public institutions of higher education to maximize accessibility, affordability, coverage, and ease of enrollment while minimizing accidental enrollment and other negative consequences”


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