Governor uses veto authority to trim supplemental operating budget

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Last Friday, Governor Inslee signed the supplemental operating and capital budgets.  While he signed the supplemental capital budget in full, he used his line-item veto authority to trim the supplemental operating budget stating that circumstances have changed dramatically since the 2020 supplemental operating budget was approved by the Legislature last month due to COVID-19.  In total, Inslee vetoed 147 new spending items when signing the supplemental operating budget. The vetoes will reduce state spending by nearly $445 million (from the Near General Fund) over the next three years — $235 million in the current budget and $210 million in the next biennium. Notably, all of the items vetoed were for new funding measures.

Below are some notable items of interest that were vetoed in the supplemental operating budget:

  • Climate Change: $50 million to address the climate crisis by investing in communities and projects to enhance mitigation and resilience. VETOED
  • Growth Management Workgroup – $350,000 is provided for a workgroup to review and make recommendations for legislation to update the Growth Management Act in light of roadmap in the recent Ruckelshaus Center report.  The work group must report on its activities and recommendations by Dec. 1, 2020.  VETOED
  • Chlorpyrifos – $280,000 to Washington State University to implement the provisions of E2SSB 6518. VETOED
  • Conservation District Support – $ 332,000 is provided for the Conservation Commission to increase the capacity of conservation districts to assist landowners in environmental stewardship and achieving agricultural sustainability. VETOED
  • State Inspections of Meat – $150,000 is provided for WSDA to work with USDA to explore and negotiate a cooperative agreement to conduct state inspections of meat and poultry facilities. Also includes funding for WSDA to work with Canada to develop labeling standards regarding country of origin for beef and other meat products.  VETOED
  • Special Purpose District Elections – $125,000 is provided solely for a study focusing on special purpose district elections to be completed within the division of politics, philosophy, and public affairs at the Tacoma.  VETOED
  • Solar Siting Project – $500,000 is provided to WSU’s energy program to launch a least-conflict priority solar siting pilot project in the Columbia basin of eastern and central Washington. There must be engagement with stakeholders to identify priority areas where there is the least amount of potential conflict in the siting of utility scale solar.  VETOED
  • HPA Assistance – $800,000 is provided for DFW to create a statewide permittee assistance program as part of hydraulic project approvals, in which department staff collaborate with landowners during construction to help resolve risks for permit noncompliance.   VETOED

Here is a link to the partial veto message on the supplemental operating budget.

In addition, Governor vetoed the following bills of interest to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers due to fiscal concerns related to COVID-19:

  • Chlorpyrifos Regulation (E2SSB 6518). This bill originally banned most chlorpyrifos use unless it was exempted and also created an emergency permit process. It was amended in the House to remove the ban, exemptions, and emergency permit process on chlorpyrifos in favor of giving WSDA emergency rulemaking authority for controls on chlorpyrifos to prevent public exposures (rules to take effect by Jan. 1, 2022.)  VETOED. The veto message can be found at this link.
  • Minimum Crew Size (HB 1841). This bill establishes minimum crew size requirements on trains transporting hazardous and non-hazardous material. The bill would require a minimum crew size of two for common carrier and passenger trains. The final legislation exempted shoreline railroads (Class III railroads) from the crew size requirement when traveling under twenty-five miles per hour.  This issue is likely to get litigated over federal preemption issues.  The governor partially vetoed the bill by removing the provision making the legislation go into effect immediately arguing that the UTC needed more time to engage with stakeholders and implement rules. PARTIAL VETO. The partial veto message can be found at this link.

Notably, he did sign the Soil Health Initiative and sustainable farming bill.