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Inside Olympia — Christine Rolfes, Chris Corry

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Washington has a population nearing 8 million people. Four of those people — from different walks of life, from different communities around Washington — bear the weighty responsibility of writing the state’s biennial operating budget, which serves all of Washington.

This week, we interview two of those people: Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge Island recently stepped down as the Democratic Chair of the powerful State Senate Ways & Means Committee, after six years leading that committee. State Representative Chris Corry of Yakima recently was named as the Ranking Republican on the budget-writing committee in the opposite chamber, the House Appropriations Committee.

The 2023-25 state operating budget received final legislative approval in April, at the end of the 2023 legislative session. The budget document contained 1,405 pages, and represented the distribution of $70 billion dollars. It contains detailed provisos governing how the state will pay for such programs and services as K-12 public schools, colleges and universities, parks and prisons, and much more.

Christine Rolfes recently stepped down from the Senate to become a Kitsap County Commissioner. What are her reflections on writing the state budget, and what are her thoughts on the most recent budget and the state’s fiscal health?

Rep. Chris Corry took over as Ranking Republican on Appropriations when Rep. Drew Stokesbary was elected Republican Minority Leader. He gives his thoughts on K-12 education funding, taxes and gas prices, the budget’s ending-fund balance, and more.