Democratic caucus taps Hargrove for budget-writing panel seat

Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA — The Senate Democratic Caucus has selected Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam to chair the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which is instrumental in prioritizing funding for state services from education to public safety.

The recommendation will be voted on by the entire Senate — in which Democrats hold the majority — when the state Legislature convenes Jan. 14, said Ian Cope, Senate Democratic communications spokesman.

Hargove is one of three — all Democrats — who represent the 24th District. Rep. Steve Tharinger and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege serve in the House representing the district that covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, received the caucus’s recommendation as vice-chairwoman of the committee.

Hargrove is a forester, while Nelson is a longtime environmental advocate who represents West Seattle, Burien and North Highline in addition to Vashon Island.

“While we come from different backgrounds, I believe that the partnership of Sen. Nelson and I would represent the combination of different ideas working for the common good,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove served for more than 20 years as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee, where he helped build compromises that supported major reforms in Washington state’s criminal sentencing, prison system and community supervision services, Cope said.

“I believe Sen. Hargrove is the right person to lead the committee, based on his years of experience, his expertise and my belief that we need all points of view represented in our leadership,” Senate Majority Leader Ed Murray said.

Hargrove said the selection was “a great honor, opportunity and responsibility.”

Nelson, a former bank vice president who also helped draft budgets when she served on the staff of the King County Council, served as the chairwoman of the Senate Environment Committee in the past legislative session.

Lead budget writer

The chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee is the lead writer of the state’s budget, including revenue considerations and shaping the capital budget.

The chair’s traditional primary task is the two-year state operating budget, which is expected to include $32.5 billion in state general funds in 2013-2015.

The vice chair of the committee traditionally is charged with writing the state’s capital construction budget, which funds educational, environmental and economic development construction projects statewide.

Last modified: November 28. 2012 5:58PM
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