The 2016 Washington State regular legislative session began on January 11th and ended on March 10th. The Legislature was called into special session by Governor Inslee immediately following the close of regular session because they had not passed a supplemental budget. On March 10th, expressing his frustrations with the legislature’s inability to negotiate a supplemental budget, Governor Inslee vetoed 27 bills. During the final days of special session, the Legislature overrode all 27 vetoes by passing each bill again with two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate.
On March 29th, after a 20-day special session, the State Legislature passed a supplemental budget that will fund services through June of 2017. The final supplemental budget increases spending by $191 million over 2015 and pays for wildfire costs, invests in mental health and homelessness, and provides funding to recruit and retain public school teachers. In addition to those investments, the final supplemental budget also maintains program funding for State Food Assistance, Emergency Food Assistance, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
Unfortunately, the State Legislature did not include funding for important programs like Breakfast After the Bell or Farm to School/Small Farms Direct Marketing. Washington State has dropped to 45th in the nation in feeding breakfast to low-income students. Breakfast After the Bell would have improved access to school breakfast by requiring high-need schools to offer breakfast after the start of the school day. The Farm to School Program improves access to healthy produce for children in school while also helping Washington’s farm economy.
The final supplemental budget was delivered to Governor Inslee and he signed it into law on April 18th.