For those who have never paid attention to a Washington State legislative session before, we are about to enter the next distinct phase of the session: The budget. The early months of the session are mostly focused on general policy changes, though the budget is always a giant looming over the session. After a series of policy bill deadlines, attention shifts to deal with the money to pay for it all.
Washington Bikes notes in their most recent legislative update that the Senate’s version of the capital budget includes a significant increase for “outdoor recreation, trail development, and state park enhancements.” I like the sound of that.
The Senate and House are also set to release their full budget proposals next week, and WA Bikes is seeking more funding for safe streets as well as e-bike incentives on top of preserving funding for existing biking and safe streets programs. So stay tuned for chances to get involved and show support.
This week we’re preparing for the House and Senate to release their capital, operating, and transportation budgets! Our legislative agenda includes a number of budget items. We will be advocating to add or retain our priorities as the Senate and House budgets move towards approval.
Capital budget: Senate version released yesterday, Monday March 20:
- Includes: $120 million, an all time high for funding of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Programs’ outdoor recreation, trail development, and state park enhancement!
Transportation budget: House budget will be released on March 27; Senate budget on March 29. WA Bikes transportation budget priorities:
- Full funding for active transportation programs passed in the Move Ahead WA package, including Safe Routes to Schools; Bike Ped grant program, and Bike education program.
- E-bike incentives to increase equitable access and ownership.
- New traffic safety investments proposed in the Governor’s budget, specifically:
- $5 million for WSDOT to make improvements to infrastructure as emergent safety needs arise.
- $3 million to construct pedestrian signals at nine locations on State Route 7 in Pierce County specifically to improve safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and other active transportation users. This involves the stretch of SR7 where Michael Weilert was killed while biking in a crosswalk last summer.
Read on for more updates!
Upcoming budget dates:
- The Senate’s Capital Budget was released yesterday, March 20, along with the Revenue Forecast Update.
- On Thursday March 23, the Senate Operating Budget will be released, and will face a hearing on Friday, March 24.
- All three House budgets (capital, operating, and transportation) will be released on March 27.
- The Senate Transportation Budget will be released on March 29.
Policy highlights from last week:
- HB1319, driver’s license re-examination, was placed on a second reading by the Senate Rules Committee on March 15, and will be up for a vote on the Senate floor soon!
- SB5583 – young driver safety – had a successful public hearing on Thursday, March 16 in the House Transportation Committee.