What's the process?At its most basic, the budget process is as follows:
- State agencies submit their funding requests.
- The Governor reviews agency requests and prepares a proposed budget
- The Legislature reviews the Governor's proposed budget, develops and debates a proposed budget, and passes it.
- The Governor reviews the passed budget and signs it into law, vetoes it, or partially vetoes it.
How long does it take?The process begins with agencies preparing budget requests in the summer for the following legislative session, which begins on the second Monday of every January. The budgets take effect on July 1 following the legislative session in which they're passed.
How many budgets are prepared?For legislative session in odd-numbered years, the steps described above are done for the biennial budget (covering two years) and the supplemental budget (updates to the previous or current biennial budget). In addition, they are done for each budget type, operating, capital, and transportation. That means there are six different budgets prepared and passed in odd-numbered years. In these years, the Legislature meets for 105 days.
In even-numbered years, only a supplemental budget is prepared for each budget type to update the current biennial budget. There are total of three budgets prepared and passed in these years and the Legislature is in session for 60 days.
How can I track the budget process and details?Within each of the main steps above, many actions must take place to meet certain milestones throughout the process. You can track some of those actions and milestones using this fiscal.wa.gov website.
Interactive Data Reports. In late December, the website displays data from the agency budget requests and the Governor's proposed budgets. You may review and compare those in the interactive data reports. Each variation of a published budget is called a version. On the interactive reports, you may select which version you'd like to you view. These pages for the operating budget, capital budget, and transportation budget contain links to the interactive data reports for biennial and supplemental budgets,
During the session, the Legislature publishes new versions of the budgets as their development progresses. These progress from proposals by committee chairpersons, to versions passed by the committees, to versions passed by each chamber (House and Senate). The House and Senate each have their own versions, which are reconciled near the end of session. Once the Legislature has passed a budget and the Governor has signed it, it is known as the "enacted" version. That is the version that takes effect on July 1.
- Legislative Proposals. The legislative proposal pages display all of the budget versions and their supporting documents as they are published during session. This allows viewers to review each version as it's released and compare the contents of each. For links to all proposals, see the respective pages for operating proposals, capital proposals, and transportation proposals.
Maps. The capital and transportation budgets contain funding for projects throughout the state. The website has maps for each budget version displaying where the projects are located for capital projects and transportation projects, in addition to some data about each project.
Search. The website has two ways to search budget information. Please see the Search Overview page for details.