State Senate passes $43 million budget proposal

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Early this morning, the Washington State Senate passed a $43 billion budget proposal that earmarks $1.8 billion for education funding in a 25-24 vote. Unlike the governor’s proposed budget, the senate budget does not raise new taxes such as a carbon tax. However, it does rework the state property tax to replace local property tax levies. Here are some highlights of the budget:

Water

• The Senate budget references E2SSB 5239 dealing with the Hirst/Foster cases dealing with exempt wells and mitigation

• The Washington State Department of Ecology is appropriated $15 million of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $15 million for fiscal year 2019 for activities within the water resources program

DNR

• $1,420,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $1,352,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for deposit into the agricultural college trust management account and are provided solely to manage approximately 70,700 acres of Washington State University’s agricultural college trust lands.

• $16,546,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $16,546,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for emergency fire suppression. The general funds provided in this subsection may not be used to fund the department’s indirect and administrative expenses.

DFW

• $1,616,500 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $1,616,500 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for payments in lieu of real property taxes to counties that elect to receive the payments for department owned game lands within the county.

• $725,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $725,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for the department to enter into cost-sharing contracts with livestock producers to use nonlethal actions to minimize livestock loss from wolves and other carnivores.  The department must also support the wolf advisory group in  continuing to resolve conflicts between livestock producers, hunters, and wolf population recovery efforts.

DNR/DFW/Parks

• DNR/DFW & Parks must coordinate a process to develop options and recommendations to improve consistency, equity, and simplicity in recreational access fee systems while accounting for the fiscal health and stability of public land management. Must look at opportunities for federal and state recreational permit fee coordination, including the potential for developing a system that allows a single pass to provide access to federal and state lands.

Conservation Commission

• $7,600,000 of the public works assistance account is provided solely for implementation of the voluntary stewardship program.

Commerce

• Requires Commerce to administer its growth management act technical assistance and pass-through grants so that smaller cities and counties receive proportionately more assistance than larger cities or counties.

• $512,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 is provided solely to complete the requirements of the agricultural labor skills and safety grant program in chapter 43.330 RCW. This program expires July 1, 2018.

• $600,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 is provided solely for the William D. Ruckelshaus center to prepare a roadmap for Washington’s future that recommends  improvements to the state’s growth planning framework and identifies areas of agreement for reforms needed to maintain and improve Washington’s economic, environment, and human health. The roadmap must include a comprehensive review of the growth management act, the state environmental policy act, and shoreline management act. The work must also include regional workshops across the state to engage citizen and community involvement to shape the roadmap.

WSU

• $90,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $90,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for a rural economic development and outreach coordinator.

• $135,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $135,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for a honey bee biology research position.

• $580,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2018 and $580,000 of the general fund for fiscal year 2019 are provided solely for the development of an organic agriculture systems degree program located at the university center in Everett.

The budget summary can be found here.