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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Washington: The Budget That Never Happened


The crafting of the Washington state 2017‒2019 biennial budget during the 2017 legislativesession coincided with the looming deadline set by the Washington Supreme Court inthe McCleary decision requiring a sustainable system to achieve “ample provision” for equitableK-12 support. Washington’s improving urban economy lessened some of the budget challenges,eviscerated by divided government and the Supreme Court’s McCleary and Hirst decisions. Inwhat is become common place, the legislature required multiple special sessions to, on the lastday prior to the mandated budget shutdown, pass the McCleary fulfilling operating budget. Threespecial sessions, however, weren’t enough for the legislature to negotiate a solution to the Hirstdecision. This standoff between rural water rights and development resulted in the state capitalbudget being held as a pawn in the negotiations and is indicative of the greater challenges facingWashington State and its divided population, economy and territory.

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