Sen. Rolfes to stay on as Ways & Means chair

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes will continue to chair the Senate’s budget committee, Ways & Means, when the Washington State Legislature convenes in 2019.

Rolfes, a Bainbridge Island Democrat and 23rd District lawmaker, was first appointed chair following the 2017 Election, which shifted control of the state Senate from Republicans to Democrats.

“Just eight months ago, we left Olympia on time after passing a balanced supplemental budget, setting the state on solid fiscal ground entering the 2019-21 biennium,” Rolfes said.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in 2019 and leading our efforts to craft a smart budget that moves our state forward over the next two years,” she said.

The committee’s chief achievement during Rolfes’ first year as chair was to address the Washington Supreme Court’s longstanding McCleary decision on school funding, for which the Legislature had been declared in contempt of court.

The solutions negotiated by Rolfes persuaded the state Supreme Court to lift its contempt-of-court order that had been in place for several contentious years.

Every odd year, lawmakers in Olympia are responsible for creating a balanced budget that will guide the state’s spending for the following two years, or biennium.

As chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Rolfes will lead dozens of public hearings while working with budget leaders in the House of Representatives and the Governor’s Office to write the operating budget.

“The economic news is positive as our state’s talented workforce continues to innovate and grow Washington’s economy at a record pace, but we also have many pressing needs,” Rolfes said. “We’ll have to prioritize our investments and keep our commitment to education, mental health care and our environment.”

The 2019 Legislative Session will convene on Jan. 14.

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