Next Thursday marks the official halfway point – day 30 – of the 60-day 2022 legislative session. But there’s much to do before then. Thursday, February 3, was the day by which bills must have passed out of a policy committee in their house of origin. Marathon fiscal hearings will commence tomorrow (Saturday) and on Monday, as bills with a price tag must move out of the fiscal committees in their house of origin by Monday night.
The legislature will then spend the following eight days devoted to floor action, moving bills from one house to the other, after which the process starts all over again on an abbreviated timeline.
While the actual halfway point is next week, the halfway mark for legislation doesn’t happen until day 37.
Unless they are subject to budget negotiations or resurrected as “go home” bills, – those necessary to finalize any last-minute deals – bills that don’t meet these thresholds are considered dead for the remainder of session. The number of new bills introduced likewise decreases as they will, mostly, arrive too late to meet those thresholds. The number of bills WSAC staff is tracking will diminish at each gate and those remaining will deserve increased focus.
While it’s early overall for the release of budget proposals, rumor has it that the Senate will release their transportation budget proposal next week. We don’t expect to see the capital or operating budget proposals before the next revenue forecast is released mid-month.
The Washington Research Council released a report earlier this week that estimates the state’s budget surplus is now $11.249 billion over four years, in addition, to close to $3.5 billion in one-time funds: $1 billion in the Washington rescue plan transition account, $1.273 billion in general federal relief funds, and $1.2 billion in the budget stabilization account (rainy day fund).
There are as many ideas regarding how to spend the money as there are dollars, but now would be an excellent time to take a hard look at making sure we have properly funded and functioning governments at all levels in the state.