2017-2019 Legislative Agenda

In the 2017 and 2018 state legislative sessions, Washington’s elected leaders have an opportunity to ensure that all our residents have strong communities, great schools, and the chance for a bright future. While Washington is known for its innovation and its thriving industries, there nevertheless remains work to be done to make Washington a state that is moving forward and where everyone can prosper. 

Our state budget is one of the most powerful tools we have to invest in progress.

And the path to building a prosperous state begins with equity – with ensuring we have a just and inclusive society in which everyone, including people from every racial and ethnic group, can participate and reach their full potential. When legislators lead with equity, all people, businesses, and communities will benefit. 

The Washington State Budget & Policy Center’s 2017-19 Legislative Agenda outlines key priorities for our state legislators to build a stronger and more equitable Washington. 

2017-19 Legislative Agenda graphic

We are pleased that a number of our policy priorities advanced during the 2017 legislative session. In particular, elected leaders rightly strengthened supports for families to meet basic needs, closed outdated tax breaks like the sales tax exemption for bottled water and a tax break that largely benefited oil refineries, and approved paid family and medical leave. [For more about our successes, take a look at these 2017 blog posts: Final budget makes progress on community investments – for nowGovernor's veto of unnecessary, short-sighted tax giveaway is the right move for Washington's futureImportant gains have been made for a better future for our state, but more needs to be done.]
Now, in 2018, elected leaders must take additional steps to ensure our state budget delivers on the values of our great state. They can no longer leave undone the important task of cleaning up our upside-down tax code – in which the wealthiest people pay the least state and local taxes as a share of their incomes. Cleaning up the tax code will help ensure our state has the revenue to pay for investments in great schools and strong communities. 
In the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers should:
  • Ensure there is ample and equitable funding to raise the salaries of public K-12 teachers, as required by the state Supreme Court, in time for the 2018-19 school year.
  • Support strong investments in our communities and the well-being of Washingtonians into the future by: helping more kids get access to our successful state preschool program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, by expanding eligibility; passing “breakfast after the bell” legislation that supports student health and readiness through nutrition; increasing supports for people experiencing economic insecurity, homelessness, and behavioral health challenges; protecting health care funding provided by programs like the Affordable Care Act and Apple Health for Kids; and taking steps to correct the short-sighted fixes and accounting gimmicks from the 2017-19 biennial budget.
  • Enact long-term solutions to fix our upside-down tax code by: closing the tax break on capital gains; making the tax on sales of real estate more equitable by reducing the tax rates on the sale of lower-valued properties and increasing the rates applied to properties that sell for more than $1 million; and boosting the incomes of hardworking families through the Working Families Tax Rebate.

And read on for more details from the Budget & Policy Center's full 2017-2019 legislative agenda, which was released in early 2017:


Goal: All Washington residents can meet their basic needs and live in thriving communities.

  • Ensure access to child care for working families through the Working Connections Child Care program by eliminating the enrollment cap, increasing reimbursement rates for providers, and increasing wages for child care workers.
  • Support families in meeting basic needs while parents look for adequate and stable employment by restoring Temporary Assistance to Needy Families cash assistance, and make sure everyone can secure a roof over their heads through the Housing Trust Fund.
  • Ensure that 50 percent fewer people are living in poverty by 2025 through an intergenerational strategy focused on equity across all racial groups, family types, and geographies.
  • Provide everyone with access to nutritious food in Washington by investigating the scope and impact of hunger and food insecurity to allow state agencies and communities to develop targeted strategies to end hunger.


Goal: Washington kids have access to a world-class education system with high-quality teachers, curriculum, and enrichment throughout early learning, K-12, and post-secondary education.

  • Make sure young children have access to early childhood education through the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program by increasing slots in the program, making facilities improvements, and increasing the provider rate to support successful expansion.
  • Ensure every child has access to a great basic education, which includes the recruitment and retention of great teachers and the closure of the opportunity gap for children of color.
  • Provide pathways to post-secondary degrees through the State Need Grant, Opportunity Grants, the Guided Pathways model, the College in Prisons program, and the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program.


Goal: Washingtonians have equal opportunity to live healthy lives with access to affordable health care and clean air, water and land, as well as protection from the threat of climate change.

  • Preserve and protect Washington state's commitment to ensuring health care for all through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Apple Health for Kids. 
  • Adopt a carbon tax to reduce emissions, accelerate a just economic transition to a green economy, and reduce the impacts of climate change on our communities and the environment.
  • Reduce toxic pollution in all communities through toxic site cleanups, programs to prevent and control harmful pollution, and grants for local communities facing toxic pollution and waste problems. 


Goal: Washingtonians live in strong communities with a high quality of life, have opportunities to thrive, and are represented by a state government that is responsible, efficient, and transparent.

  • Ensure transparency and accountability in our tax code by requiring large corporations to disclose to the public the amounts they receive in state tax breaks, their gross income from activities performed in Washington state, and their bottom-line annual tax payments.
  • Guarantee that Washington residents have access to legal representation in civil matters such as discrimination claims, denial of public benefits, and other situations where they interact with the courts and government entities.
  • Incorporate an equity impact tool in policymaking to advance policies that will close the opportunity gap, and promote equitable outcomes for people of color, women, and children.
  • Reduce barriers to re-entry for people who have been incarcerated through the Fair Chance Act and legal financial obligations reform.


Goal: Washington has a strong middle class with reliable employment and wages that allow Washington residents to support themselves and their families, upgrade their skills, and save for the future.

  • Ensure all Washington residents can take time off with universal paid Family and Medical Leave insurance.
  • Recognize and protect the right of people to organize and negotiate with their employers and raise wages for front-line workers by funding negotiated collective bargaining agreements for public workers.


Goal: Washington's revenue system is reformed to raise stable, dependable resources to fully fund public schools, to lift up working families, and to fund other priorities that serve us all. 

  • Rebalance the tax code with a 9.9 percent tax on capital gains on the wealthiest 2 percent of Washingtonians.
  • Boost the incomes of more than 400,000 hardworking families in Washington state by fully funding the Working Families Tax Rebate.
  • Eliminate wasteful tax breaks and arbitrary restrictions that are harming Washington schools, while raising the state property tax levy to ensure every child has access to a great education. 
  • Support homeowners and renters who work hard for low pay or are on low fixed incomes with new, targeted property tax rebates. 
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Our Policy Priorities

Washington state should be a place where all our residents have strong communities, great schools, and the chance for a bright future. Our 2017-2019 Legislative Agenda outlines the priorities we are working to advance to build a better Washington.

Testimonies in Olympia

Misha TVW
We're in Olympia throughout the 2018 legislative session to testify in support of bills that advance our legislative priorities. Watch our testimonies on TVW:

Our Seattle Policy Summit

You can watch our Budget Matters 2017 Seattle Policy Summit, which took place on December 6, online. The first part of the day (watch herefeatured Washington State Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib and Race Forward President Glenn Harris. The second part of the day (watch here) featured Budget & Policy Center Senior Policy Analyst Jennifer Tran, and a panel of local leaders moderated by Michael Brown of the Seattle Foundation.