January 8, 2018
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Legislature convenes today with heavy workload for 'short' session

The 2018 legislative session begins today. It's an off-year "short" session, just 60 days. The biggest official task for lawmakers is a budgetary tune-up to the two-year budget approved last summer. However, a number of other major issues are up for discussion in the Legislature, which is now controlled fully by Democrats after a victory for Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, in a special November election. The News Tribune took a look at four storylines to watch in Olympia this session.

AWB's Government Affairs team offered a look at this year's legislative session in an in-depth webinar last week, which is now available to watch online.

Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs, said he believes that the narrow Democratic majorities in both chambers will finish the session on time, or even in under 60 days. There will be talk of raising taxes, but he doesn't think that will come to pass.

"I think there'll be some discussion on revenue, but I don't think we'll see revenue necessarily raised at this time," said Chandler. He said the Legislature should not dip into rainy-day funds, since it's unclear what will happen with the economy in the months ahead.

Major points of discussion promise to include a fix for the Hirst rural water rights issue and the need for a state capital construction budget, The Associated Press reports. The Columbia Basin Herald has more on the Hirst issue.

There will also be debates about education funding after the state Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature's 2017 budget addresses the McCleary education funding issue, albeit a year later than the high court would prefer.

AWB, as the state's manufacturing association, will continue to shine a light on the need to offer tax relief to Washington manufacturers -- which was included in last year's budget, but was line-item vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The Associated Press hosted a wide-ranging discussion with legislative leaders on Thursday. The videos are available on TVW.

The Seattle Times Editorial Board has its own list of what issues the Legislature should focus on during its limited session.

The 2018 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 8.

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Don't Spend Rainy Day Fund

Washington's debt level a cause for concern

By The Editorial Board of The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

... Washington state Treasurer Duane Davidson has urged lawmakers and the governor to keep their hands off the state's rainy-day fund, noting that we are in an economic expansion, which is the time to be saving, not borrowing.

With that, we heartily agree.

Read the full editorial in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Fiscal Restraint

Our Voice: It's not raining hard enough to dip into state reserves

By The Editorial Board of The Tri-City Herald

The state's rainy-day fund is supposed to grow when times are good so there is money available when times are tough.

A simple enough plan to understand, yet apparently difficult for some lawmakers to follow.

Gov. Jay Inslee's budget includes taking money from the state's emergency reserves to help pay for teacher salaries in the 2018-19 school year, but we think this would be a mistake.

The legislative session begins Monday, and we advise the Legislature to find some other way to meet its obligation to public education without "borrowing" from reserves...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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