11a. Attachment

2023 State Legislative Session Review

Agenda Item No. 11a_Attach_1
Meeting Date: May 23, 2023

Insurance Building, PO Box 43113  Olympia, Washington 98504-3113  (360) 902-0555 
April 7, 2023
TO:        Honorable Marko Liias
Honorable Curtis King
Senate Transportation Committee 
Honorable Jake Fey 
Honorable Andrew Barkis
House Transportation Committee 
FROM:     David Schumacher
We have significant concerns with the House and Senate transportation budgets that we believe need to be
addressed in your final compromise budget.
The House and Senate transportation budgets appear to fund many projects throughout the state. In reality,
however, many of the projects are only partly funded or are aspirational. The capital project lists look robust,
but the practical constraints of delivering the projects and the unrealistic financial plan is a set-up for failure and
When we met in December, we agreed that a $7 billion capital plan was too large. The Governor’s budget
reprioritized projects due to declining revenues, increasing costs and constraints on contractor capacity. It also
set expectations more in line with realistic construction delivery timelines. We need the Legislature to similarly
lay out priorities given these financial and delivery constraints.
The legislative budgets not only ignore the reality of project delivery, but they also fall short of addressing the
significant maintenance and preservation needs throughout our state and the ongoing need to keep drivers safe 
with adequate patrolling. Both budgets diminish the ability of the Washington State Patrol to enforce roadway
safety and respond to accidents that close roadways. The budgets also reduce Department of Licensing staff 
who provide services such as renewal of driver’s licenses and other essential needs, which will hinder the
department’s ability to minimize wait times.
Capital project completion 
The House and Senate transportation capital budget construction timelines and financial plans are not feasible.
Both budgets appropriate amounts in the 2023-25 biennium that are not sustainable over the timeline of project
construction. Historically, the Department of Transportation can deliver an average of a little over $3 billion each
biennium. Both budgets assume over $7 billion will be constructed during the biennium. An ambitious amount,
$5.7 billion, was appropriated in the Governor’s capital plan. Even this exceeds the amount that the department
has been able to deliver in the past. Project delivery is dependent upon several factors including the ability to
recruit and hire a skilled workforce, contractors, and consultants, and to purchase equipment and supplies in a
timely manner. Without prioritizing the capital list, the over-appropriation leads to unrealistic expectations for 
communities and would require the department to prioritize projects without legislative direction.
On the financial side, neither budgets balance in future biennia, which jeopardizes the ability of the state to
continue partially completed projects without requiring new sources of funds as soon as next biennium. As

             stated above, SB 5763 would make the Senate financial plan feasible but does not address the department’s
ability to complete the legislative expectations for delivery. 
Public safety and other services 
The State Patrol reductions would reduce the number of troopers patrolling our roads by reducing overtime.
Because of the existing shortage of troopers, the State Patrol relies on vacancy savings to pay overtime to ensure
a sufficient number of troopers are policing the state roadways. 
Despite the budgets’ support of a program to entice lateral recruitments (law enforcement transferring from local
law enforcement to the State Patrol) by paying for compressed training for those with experience, they do not
include the full funding needed for actual salaries and benefits for those who may want to join the State Patrol. 
The budgets also cut other State Patrol positions that support crime scene detectives, overtime for communication
officers for proper 911 center staffing levels, and others that are critical to the State Patrol’s day-to-day operations.
These reductions also remove State Patrol funding to handle emergent situations, such as official visits, natural
disasters, or critical infrastructure failures. These cuts will impact the agency’s ability to carry out its mission and
protect the residents of Washington. 
The licensing services reduction at the Department of Licensing will likely result in layoffs, part-time office
closures or reduced hours, and fewer driving skills tests that DOL can offer in multiple locations. The real-life
impact will be longer wait times for services. In the second year of the biennium, the reduction will impact the
agency’s ability to fully implement REAL ID enforcement. 
The Senate budget’s staff reductions at the Department of Transportation will impact the department’s ability to
deliver the legislatively directed projects and programs in the budget. 
Another major concern is that budget language poses legal risks by suggesting that agencies should hire staff
beyond their appropriation authority. The law prohibits agencies from spending more than their authorized
appropriation levels; therefore, agencies will not be able to achieve authorized staffing levels because of the
vacancy cuts. 
Maintaining and preserving the transportation system 
House and Senate funding to preserve and maintain roadways is significantly lower than the Governor’s budget.
The funding level for these purposes is also lower than the expectation set forth in the 2022 supplemental budget
finance plan. Underfunding preservation and maintenance is inconsistent with the stated priority of the 2022
Move Ahead Washington 16-year transportation package. As you know, preservation was a cornerstone of the
Preservation is essential to prevent deterioration of the transportation system and decrease the future expense of
deferred repairs. Postponing the work also poses safety hazards for travelers. The limited amount of preservation 
funding in both budgets would require the department to stop all advertisements for preservation work. This
reduction in preservation is more significant in the House budget. This means new preservation will not start and
will result in the deterioration of the multimodal system, indefinite deferral of the Complete Streets program 
(improving safety, mobility and accessibility of state highways), re-evaluation of speed limits and weight limits
on bridges, and possible road, lane or bridge closures. 
Additionally, the significant reduction in maintenance funding in the legislative budgets – and the House budget
in particular – would impact the agency’s ability to keep mountain passes open during winter storms, repair
damages to highways, clean up litter and graffiti, and other critical activities needed to keep our roads and
bridges open and travelers safe. 
To advance cleanup of homeless encampments on public rights of way, the House and Senate appropriate an
additional $10.4 million. Although this is appreciated, other budget reductions within the maintenance program
are so deep that the rights of way cleanup would also be reduced by cutting into the base budget. 

Vessel construction and electrification 
The ferry system is a vital part of Washington’s transportation system that carries people to and from work and
contributes to the state’s tourism. Ensuring there are operational vessels and transforming those ferries to 
reduce greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to meeting the needs of the state. 
The House and Senate budgets underfund the construction of five hybrid-electric ferry vessels. The first hybrid
electric vessel would be underfunded by $31 million. Both budgets link the first vessel construction funding to
the ferry procurement bill (HB 1846). If the bill does not pass, ferry construction would be further delayed 
because the 2021-23 appropriation will have lapsed, and no funding would remain in the 2023-25 budget. 
Able Body to Mate program 
The Able Body (AB) to Mate program is key in helping ferry workers advance in their careers and in filling 
positions required to operate ferries. The Ferries Division must fill 107 licensed positions by 2027, and fully
funding the AB to Mate program at $12 million will help address that gap by training 96 crew members. The
House and Senate budgets fund the AB to Mate program at $8 million, which will only train 48 crew members. 
Vehicle miles traveled 
The 2021 State Energy Strategy identified vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reductions as a key strategy to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Funding is needed to partner with local jurisdictions, regional transportation planning
organizations, and other stakeholders to develop and implement VMT reductions. The House does not fully fund 
these efforts. 
The Senate budget directs the Department of Transportation to deploy new advanced technologies to collect
tolls on the westbound State Route 520 on-ramp at 84th Avenue NE. Several of the provisos would establish a
new tolling system that is separate from the existing GoodToGo! program, do not fund the new system, and set
required timelines that are not achievable. There is also a legal concern that this could be considered substantive
law in a budget bill. Despite being labelled a pilot program, tolling systems are longer term mechanisms that
will last far beyond the two-year budget cycle. In the past, they have always been established in a separate
policy bill. In addition, the provisos set specific rates in contradiction to existing law that establishes the
Transportation Commission as the sole rate-setting authority for the state. 
Local Partner Cooperative Agreement 
The House budget includes three separate items aimed at addressing projects that are at risk of delay due to over
• The Joint Transportation Committee is directed to convene a WSDOT local partnership workgroup to
create a procedure for the department to partner with local jurisdictions to perform preservation and
maintenance and construction projects on state highways. 
• WSDOT is directed to transfer three state projects to local jurisdictions. 
• WSDOT is directed to produce a list of projects to transfer from the state to local jurisdictions. 
Before transferring the three state projects to local jurisdictions or providing the list, the Joint Transportation
Committee study to ensure policies and procedures necessary for the successful transfer should be completed. 
In addition to the information provided in this memorandum, OFM budget staff will provide specific technical
and other concerns. 
cc:      Kelly Simpson, Staff Coordinator, Senate Transportation Committee 
Mark Matteson, Staff Coordinator, House Transportation Committee 
Nona Snell, Budget Director, Office of Financial Management 
Erik Hansen, Senior Budget Advisor, Office of Financial Management 
Debbie Driver, Senior Policy Advisor, Executive Policy Office 


Limitations of Translatable Documents

PDF files are created with text and images are placed at an exact position on a page of a fixed size.
Web pages are fluid in nature, and the exact positioning of PDF text creates presentation problems.
PDFs that are full page graphics, or scanned pages are generally unable to be made accessible, In these cases, viewing whatever plain text could be extracted is the only alternative.