Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s budget season at the Legislature! Both the House and Senate have proposed versions of the three budgets that we pass every year – operating, transportation, and capital. What do all three budgets entail, and what’s in them for our district?
Our operating budget pays for all our ongoing investments – schools, health care, salaries for state employees and more. This year’s Senate budget proposal makes the biggest new investment in school funding in years, with $2.9 billion in new state funds for our schools and an emphasis on special education services. It’s got about a half a billion dollars in new investments for behavioral and mental health care, and for drug treatment to address the addiction crisis. Roughly $298 million will go toward housing and the immediate shelter needs of the state’s homeless population, including the state’s Right of Way Safety Initiative. Combined with investments from the proposed capital budget, new housing-related investments total nearly $1 billion.
I know that folks in our district want more support from the state, particularly for housing and special education, and this budget doesn’t go as big as I wish it did. I’ve advocated strongly for raising new revenue so that we can make even more impactful investments in supporting our schools, our students, and our teachers; providing affordable housing and helping folks experiencing homelessness; and more. I sponsored our Washington State Wealth Tax, and I’m still talking with our budget writers about how important it is that we continue our work on fixing the tax code and making the wealthy pay what they owe.
At the same time, I don’t want to underplay what we’re doing this year. We are making major investments that will be a significant down payment towards solving these challenges. I voted for this budget proposal on the Senate floor because it will do real and meaningful good for the people of Washington. Next, we need to continue this work so we can build a state where every Washingtonian has the support they need to thrive and succeed.
Our transportation budget this year is an exciting one – because of the Move Ahead Washington package that we passed last year, and the Climate Commitment Act that we passed in 2021, we have the chance to make major environmental investments to clean up our transportation system and help people get around without needing a car by building bike, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure.
That means funding projects like:
- Transit – funding for the Rapid Ride J Line, Metro Routes 36 and 40, and the monorail downtown.
- Bike and pedestrian – funding for safety improvements on the northern portion of Aurora Ave and for bike and pedestrian improvements down by the waterfront.
- Ongoing work – continuing to fund the work on Alaskan Way at the downtown waterfront.
It also makes statewide investments in a cleaner and safer transportation system by funding new electric ferries and infrastructure for electric vehicle charging, providing financial incentives for the purchase of e-bikes, removing barriers to salmon passage, and more. We know we have a lot to do to make sure we have a transportation system that works for everyone, with greener and safer options to get around, and this budget is a big step forward.
Our capital budget funds our state’s physical infrastructure – mostly buildings, but many other things too. Our Senate proposal would make a big investment in directly constructing affordable housing statewide, to go along with the work we’re doing to promote private development. I’m very confident that our budget this year will set a record for the biggest investment in affordable housing in state history.
It’s also got a lot of exciting investments right here in the 36th District – projects like:
- Arts – Renovating the Seattle Repertory Theater to improve ADA accessibility and contributing $750,000 for work on the Seattle Children’s Theater.
- Environment and outdoor recreation – Fixing up the bridge over the railroad at Carkeek Park, cleaning up sediment at the Pier 91 cruise ship terminal, and renovating the Soundview Playfield at Whitman Middle School.
- Sports – Building statues of Sue Bird and Lenny Wilkens at Climate Pledge Arena and putting $4 million into Memorial Stadium.
- Education – investing more than half a billion dollars for school construction statewide, which SPS can apply for grants from.
- And SO MANY more – you can see the list here (I strongly encourage you to check it out!).
All of these projects help create jobs and build the infrastructure for our communities, our businesses, and our environment to thrive.
So, what’s next? With the House and Senate both releasing proposals for all three of these budgets, the next step is to get together and negotiate the differences. We’ve got until the end of session, April 23, to get this work done, so I’ve got a few busy weeks ahead of me.
If you have thoughts on these budgets and what the state should be funding, let me know! You can reach me any time at Noel.Frame@leg.wa.gov, and your feedback is important to helping me represent you well. Let me know any questions or thoughts, and I look forward to keeping in touch!
Sen. Noel Frame