Lawmakers adjourn 2020 session among worries over coronavirus


The 66th Washington Legislature adjourned the 2020 session Thursday night after passing supplemental operating, transportation and capital budgets. But the final moments were partially subdued, as legislative employees and the public were asked to watch adjournment ceremonies on TVW, rather than joining together in the chambers. John Sattgast reports.

 Radio Report Transcript

SATTGAST: As lawmakers wrapped up their business after 60 days, one thing was on their minds — the coronavirus. House Republican Leader Representative J.T. Wilcox . . .

WILCOX: “There's storm clouds coming. And Madam Speaker, they certainly have gotten darker. They got here faster than anyone believed and the rain's coming down harder.”

SATTGAST: The state Capitol likely receives more visitors during session than any other public building in Washington. And while there have been no reported cases of COVID 19 among anyone at the Capitol, the virus has made everyone more cautious — even budget writers.

A supplemental operating budget passed from the House on February 28th proposed to spend nearly all the state's $2.4 billion surplus, leaving only $59 million. But as worries grew about the coronavirus, Democratic budget writers scaled back that spending in a new supplemental budget plan that leaves a balance of $800 million.

WILCOX: “I think that the direction is impressive. And it was probably as far as a majority caucus can go in reversing direction.”

SATTGAST: But House Republican Budget Leader Representative Drew Stokesbary worries budget troubles still may be ahead.

STOKESBARY: “I share in the concern that it didn't pull back enough. The budget that we are voting on today should have been our first proposal, not our last proposal.”

SATTGAST: Although the supplemental operating budget passed mostly along party lines, lawmakers came to unanimous agreement on House Bill 2965, which provides up to $200 million for coronavirus response. It was the final bill to pass before lawmakers adjourned the 2020 session and headed home.

John Sattgast, Olympia.

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