0.0/5 rating (0 votes)

The Legislature adjourned Sine Die as scheduled on the 105th day of the 2023 Legislative Session on Sunday, April 23rd. In the final week of the session, the legislature focused on two items:  bill concurrence and finishing negotiations on the state’s biennial budgets: operating, capital and transportation.  Additionally, the governor has begun signing bills into law.  

Operating Budget:

On the last day of the session, the legislature passed a $69.3 billion, two-year budget. The budget adds roughly $4.7 billion in new spending and leaves $3 billion in total reserves.  While it does not propose any new general taxes or fees, it does rely on the revenue for the first time from the capital gains tax and cap-and-trade program.  Below are notable highlights:

  • $2 million for the Department of Commerce to contract with the Western National Laboratories or a similar independent research organization to conduct an analysis of new electricity generation, transmission, ancillary services, efficiency, and storage needed to offset what is currently provided by the lower Snake River dams.
  • $500,000 for the Department of Ecology to conduct an analysis of how to continue water use for irrigation during draw-down related to potential lower Snake River dam removal.
  • $8.53 million to the Conservation Commission for implementation of the voluntary stewardship program.
  • $480,000 for the Governor to invite federally recognized tribes, local governments, agricultural producers, commercial and recreational fisher organizations, business organizations, salmon recovery organizations, forestry and agricultural organizations, and environmental organizations to participate in a process to develop recommendations on proposed changes in policy and spending priorities to improve riparian habitat.
  • $2.26 million for the Department of Ecology to provide technical assistance to landowners and local governments to promote voluntary compliance, implement best management practices, and support implementation of water quality clean-up plans focused on protection and restoration of riparian management areas for salmon recovery.
  • $3 million to the Conservation Commission to support the outreach, identification, and implementation of salmon riparian habitat restoration projects.
  • $2 million or the Conservation Commission to develop and implement an educational communication plan to the general public and landowners regarding the importance of riparian buffers and actions they can take to protect and enhance critical areas.
  • Approximately $2 million for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to continue the assessment of riparian ecosystems.
  • $581,000 to WSDA to implement a science-based, voluntary software program called saving tomorrow's agricultural resources (STAR) which provide producers tools to track soil health improvements and the ability to generate market-based incentives.
  • $400,000 to WSDA to contract with Washington State University's IMPACT Center to conduct an analysis of the threats, barriers, and challenges facing the state's agricultural producers.
  • $2.7 million to Ecology to solely for preparation and filing of adjudications of state water rights in water resource inventory area 1 (Nooksack).
  • $300,000 for Ecology’s engagement with the federal government, Indian tribes, water users, and local governments on a process that could result in a federal Indian water rights settlement through the Nooksack adjudication. The department shall produce a monthly report during the claims filing period to monitor the progress of claims filed by water users. The department is required to provide a report to the appropriate standing committees of the legislature regarding the status of the adjudication and any potential settlement structure by June 30, 2024, and by June 30, 2025.
  • $30 million to the Conservation Commission solely for grants through the sustainable farms and fields program for organic agricultural waste and greenhouse gas emissions reduction through climate-smart livestock management.
  • $350,000 to the Conservation Commission provided solely for a conflict resolution process mediated by the federal mediation and conciliation service. This funding must be used by the department to facilitate meetings between Skagit tribes, drainage and irrigation districts, and state and federal resource agencies and support the technical work necessary to resolve conflict. . A report documenting meeting notes, points of resolution, and recommendations must be provided to the legislature no later than June 30, 2025.
  • $1.5 million to Ecology for preparation and filing of adjudications of state water rights in lake Roosevelt and its immediate tributaries.
  • $500,000 for the Department of Ecology to contract with a third-party consultant to gather stakeholder input and make recommendations on the design and implementation of a producer responsibility program for consumer packaging, including paper, plastic, metal, glass, and paper products. The report is due to the legislature by Dec. 1, 2023. Legislation to establish an EPR program stalled during the legislative session but will likely be back during the 2024 session.
  • Local Food System Assistance/Grants $8M - Ongoing funding is provided to support operations across the emergency food system. Includes food processing,
  • Japanese Beetle Eradication $7.3M - Japanese beetles have been detected in Southeastern Washington. Ongoing funding is provided to continue trapping and eradications efforts.
  • Food and Ag Branding and Promotion $500k - Ongoing funding is provided for an assessment of best practices in food and agricultural branding and promotion program design, program guidelines and stakeholder engagement, and staff to implement a related program.
  • Food Assistance Program $15M with an additional $15M in federal funds - Funding is provided for Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Food Assistance programs to support staff, food purchases, cold storage, distribution facilities and equipment at food banks and food pantries.
  • WA Soil Health Initiative $581k - Funding is provided for a software program for agricultural producers to track soil health improvements.
  • Northern Giant Hornet $388k with an additional $1.13M in federal funds - Funds are provided for continued detection and eradication efforts for northern giant hornets.
  • Pesticides and Env Quality Research $978k - Funding is provided for data analysis and research on pesticides and nutrients in groundwater.
  • Groundwater Mgt Lower Yakima Valley $1.5M - Ongoing funding is provided to support work to reduce nitrate pollution in groundwater in the Lower Yakima Valley.
  • Invasive Moth Survey & Eradication $878k - Ongoing funding is provided for eradication treatments and follow-up monitoring for invasive moths.
  • Farmers to Families Food Box $35M - Funding is provided to continue the state alternative to the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, which directs emergency food resources to communities.
  • Wolf Livestock Conflict Account $688k - Ongoing funding is provided to continue grants for nonlethal deterrence of wolf predation on livestock and grants to the sheriffs' offices in Ferry and Stevens counties to assist in law enforcement and response.
  • Organic Materials Management $3.04M - Ongoing funding is provided for grants reimbursing farmers for purchasing and using compost products.
  • Tri-Cities Food Bank $255k - Funding is provided for a grant to Tri-Cities Food Bank to assist with food storage needs.
  • Columbia Basin CD Implementation of Odessa GWRP $500,000
  • Odessa - OGWRP                                                                              $32,800,000
  • Icicle - project implementation                                                     $5,000,000
  • WDFW Support                                                                                $2,000,000
  • OCR Staffing                                                                                      $2,000,000
  • Ecology EAGL Support                                                                     $20,000
  • Walla Walla 2050, EIS, Bi-State Flow study, USGS GW           $4,730,000
  • Quad Cities (City of West Richland/Richland, Pasco) - ASR              $3,500,000
  • FDR Payment                                                                                    $1,000,000
  • Columbia Basin ASR                                                                        $2,500,000
  • Odessa - mitigation                                                                         $600,000
  • Pasco Basin Water Supply (508-14)                                             $400,000
  • Feedroute                                                                                          $1,700,000
  • Miscellaneous Feasibility Studies                                                 $1,500,000
  • WW lease                                                                                           $1,000,000
  • BOR Design and Review                                                                  $850,000


Capital Budget:

The 2023-25 capital budget, which funds brick and mortar construction (excluding transportation), appropriates $8.9 billion for the biennium, utilizing $4.7 billion general obligation bonds, and reserves approximately $95 million in bond capacity for the 2024 supplemental capital budget. Below are notable highlights:

  • $95 million for the Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant programs
  • $50 million for riparian restoration grants
  • $3 million for 2023-25 VSP Project Funding under the State Conservation Commission
  • 7 million for the Columbia River Water Supply Development Program
  • $49 million for the Yakima River Basin Water Supply
  • Reappropriation of $3 million for the Voluntary Stewardship Program
  • $10 million for WSU for Knott Dairy Infrastructure
  • $1 million for WSU Agriculture Research Stations for Lind (Grain Drill & Shop Improvements) and Prosser (Greenhouse Improvements)
  • $5 million to remediate soil contaminated with DDT pesticides in Okanogan County
  • $8 million for the WA State Fairs Health and Safety Grants

Transportation Budget:

The 2023-2025 transportation budget appropriates a total of nearly $13.5 billion utilizing Climate Commitment Act funding for the first time. Below are notable highlights:

  • $56.8 million for 23-25 and a total of $665 million for the SR 18 Auburn to I-90 corridor widening project.
  • $133.6 million for 23-25 and a total of $1.17 billion for I-90, Snoqualmie Pass corridor improvements.
  • $166 million for 23-25 and a total of $1 billion for the US 395, North Spokane corridor project.
  • $435 million for 23-25 and a total of $1.2 billion for the I-405, Renton to Bellevue corridor widening project.
  • $873 million for 23-25 for the Puget Sound Gateway project, with total funding of $2.6 billion allocated for the project.
  • $15 million for 23-25 and a total of $75 million over six years for the Hood River Bridge project.
  • $15 million for the Connell Rail interchange project.
  • $11.9 million for WSDOT to continue the development of an I-5 master plan and declaration of the Legislature’s intent to provide a total of $40 million for the development of the master plan and related work by 2029. The work must include seismic resiliency planning, HOV lane system-wide performance planning and Interstate 5 corridor planning. WSDOT must provide a report to the Legislature by December 1, 2024, with recommendations for future phases and a detailed funding request for work planned through 2029. Of the amount provided this biennium, $300,000 is for a ramp reconfiguration study.
  • $1 billion for fish passage barrier removal with direction to WSDOT to explore public-private partnerships and batched contracts and an intent by the Legislature for the State to apply for federal grants from the national culvert removal funding program.
  • $275 million for the I-5 Columbia River Bridge project with a commitment of $1 billion over 16 years.
  • $33.7 million for the clean alternative fuel vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure program at WSDOT.
  • $120 million for zero-emission commercial vehicle infrastructure and incentive programs, pending the results of the Joint Transportation Committee’s development of an infrastructure and incentive strategy.
  • $30 million over six years for hydrogen fueling stations and direction to WSDOT to pursue federal matching funding.
  • $3.2 million to implement SB 5272 regarding traffic safety cameras in work zone.
  • $7 million for WSDOT to address the risks to safety and public health associated with homeless encampments on department owned rights-of-way. A minimum of $2 million must be used to deliver more frequent removal of litter on highway rights-of-way generated by unsheltered people.
  • $627,000 for the State Transportation Commission to continue the road usage pilot project.
  • Direction to WSDOT to coordinate planning across the I-5 corridor, existing rail infrastructure, future high-speed rail alignment and commercial aviation capacity.
  • $2.25 million for WSDOT to continue the existing planning for a new ultra high-speed ground transportation corridor. Activities include developing an organizational framework, developing a public engagement approach, preparing, and applying for federal funding and beginning the work on a scenario analysis addressing advanced transportation technologies, land use and growth assumptions and a defined corridor vision statement. Reports to the Legislature are due on June 30, 2024, and June 30, 2025. The budget also provides $50 million for state match contributions for federal grant opportunities for ultra high-speed rail for the 23-25 biennium.
  • $6.5 million is provided for the development of an applied sustainable aviation evaluation center. Funds may be used for sustainable aviation fuel testing and research.
  • $200 thousand to update and add to the I-5 Lid Feasibility Study with additional test cases and alternative assumptions with regards to parking, expansion of Freeway Park affordable housing and commercial real estate.
  • $4.1 million to match Federal funds for bridges in the Odessa.

Studies and Analysis to note.

  • $5 million is provided to WSDOT to conduct an analysis of highway, road and freight rail transportation needs, options, and impacts from shifting the movement of freight and goods that currently move by barge through the lower Snake River dams to highways, other roads, and rail. 
  • $500 thousand for the Joint Transportation Committee to engage an independent review team to work in coordination with WSDOT on the Snake River Dam analysis.
  • $300,000 for a Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) study of a statewide retail delivery fee on orders of taxable retail items delivered by a motor vehicle within the State. The JTC must submit a report to the Legislature by June 30, 2024.
  • $400,000 for the JTC to convene a work group to study and recommend a new statutory framework for WSDOT’s public-private partnership program. The work group must submit a preliminary report on December 15, 2023, and a final report by July 1, 2024.
  • $300,000 for the JTC to convene a work group to create a procedure in which WSDOT can partner with a local jurisdiction to perform preservation and maintenance and construct projects on state highways. The work group must submit a preliminary report by December 15, 2023, and a final report by July 1, 2024.
  • $2 million for the JTC to oversee the design of an infrastructure and incentive strategy to drive the purchase and use of zero emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles. A report is due to the transportation committees of the Legislature by January 2, 2024.
  • Direction to the JTC to convene a work group that includes OFM, WSDOT and the Treasurer’s Office to develop recommendations, by October 15, 2023, on how to meet the challenge of identifying an achievable delivery schedule for completing transportation projects across the State.
  • $75,000 for the State Transportation Commission to carry out an initial assessment and scoping effort to determine the feasibility of creating a West Coast transportation network plan that identifies and coordinates improvements and investments across West Coast states to freight rail, passenger rail, highways, and air transportation.
  • $150,000 for the Department of Licensing to coordinate with the Transportation Commission to study the feasibility of implementing and administering a per-mile fee program.



Thursday, 27 April 2023