BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, was chosen Nov. 13 to serve as chairwoman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
New committee structures, members and chairmanships come after a switch in control of the Senate from Republican to a Democratic majority.
“We have a great, knowledgeable team ready to get to work for the people of this state,” Senate Leader Sharon Nelson said in an announcement of the committee appointments. “Our chairs and committee members are passionate about moving Washington households forward. They are also dedicated to good government and are firm in their belief that the committee process serves as a platform for people to interact and be heard by their representatives in Olympia.”
The Senate Ways and Means Committee considers the operating and capital budget bills and related legislation, including the authorization of state debt. The committee also deals with tax policy and other fiscal issues such as pension policy and compensation in addition to bills with operating budget fiscal impacts.
In her new role, Rolfes will be the Senate’s chief budget writer and negotiator. She will also set the committee’s agenda and lead her colleagues in determining what bills will move through the committee to be considered for a vote of the Senate.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve as chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee,” Rolfes said in an announcement of her appointment.
“The decisions we make in Olympia have very real impacts on the people of this state, particularly with regard to how their tax dollars are spent,” she said. “As chair of Ways & Means, I will work every day to ensure the best interests of Washingtonians are at the heart of everything we do.”
Rolfes has been a state senator for the 23rd District — which includes Bainbridge, Poulsbo, Kingston, Silverdale and parts of Bremerton — since 2011. She has served in leadership roles within the Senate Democratic Caucus in recent years, and was a chief negotiator on education policy and funding during the 2017 legislative session. She also served as one of two lead Democrats on the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
Rolfes will also serve as vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
“Following some sweeping tax policy changes in the last legislative session, my aim is to make sure schools have the flexibility and funding they need, taxes are fair, businesses have the space to grow and workers across this state can thrive,” Rolfes said. “It is also critical we get our work done on time and in a transparent way.”