Washington State Lawmakers Preview 2017 Legislative Session

Jan 6, 2017

The Washington state legislature has a lot on its plate this year, from funding K-12 education to dealing with the state’s mental health system. Lawmakers spoke in Seattle this morning about some of the coming challenges. 

After the election this fall, the state legislature remains split with Democrats maintaining a slight majority in the House and Republicans the same in the Senate. That’ll make for some contentious debates as the legislative session begins Monday.

Many of those debates will surround the governor’s budget proposal, which includes billions in new taxes to pay for education and mental health services. At a breakfast event in Seattle, Senate Majority leader and Republican Mark Schoesler from eastern Washington echoed what many in his party have said about raising taxes.

"The reality is I think we would all agree that we have levies that are too high, and we have to be moving forward to cure that situation," Schoesler said.

But House Majority Leader and south King County Democrat Pat Sullivan says he doesn’t see another option.

"I don’t see how you can balance a state budget without additional revenue in order to do the things that we need to do and are responsible for," Sullivan said. 

Lawmakers were divided on several other issues. They also talked about state tax reform and what might happen here if congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. 

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