Legislature finishes business after nearly six months of sessions
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Lawmakers in Olympia are finally finished with their business after a regular session and three special sessions that kept them at the state Capitol for nearly six months. John Sattgast reports.
REPORT BEGINS WITH SOUND. . .
Speaker: “The House is adjourned sine die” [Gavel, applause fades]
Sattgast: The much-awaited final gavel marked the conclusion of the longest continual session in state history.
House Republican Leader Representative Dan Kristiansen said the process took so long primarily because Democrats wanted to increase taxes by a billion-and-a-half dollars. But Republicans held firm and finally won a two-year state operating budget that avoided major tax increases, while pumping an additional one-point-three billion dollars into K-12 education. .
Kristiansen: “We had a plan going into this session that still would have balanced the budget, still would have made major investments in education, taking care of mental illness issues, and public safety, and things that I think are important to the citizens of the state without raising taxes. What this allowed us to do is to even put more money investing into those areas and I think it is something most of us can be very proud of.”
Sattgast: The operating budget and a transportation revenue package were passed at the end of June. But Senate Democrats delayed adjournment for another 10 days by withholding their votes needed to suspend a two-billion dollar class-size reduction initiative. In exchange, they wanted a bill to relax a high school biology testing requirement and allow 2,000 students who failed the test to graduate anyway.
An agreement was reached earlier this week and both those bills passed the Senate Thursday. The House followed with its vote on Friday on those measures, along with passing bond bills to fund new transportation projects and the capital budget.
It took 176 days to finish the work of the 2015 Legislature. It took only minutes once the final gavel fell for lawmakers to scramble to their cars and finally head home for the year.
John Sattgast, Olympia.
###Washington State House Republican Communications
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