OLYMPIA -- Spokane Democrat Timm Ormsby was named chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday.
Ormsby, first elected to the Legislature in 2002, has been the committee's vice chairman since 2012. He succeeds Hans Dunshee, who resigned recently after being appointed to the Snohomish County Council.
The committee writes the House version of the state's general operating budget, currently about $38 billion over two years. The chairmanship has limited responsibilities between sessions, but Ormsby is expected to retain the post in 2017 if Democrats maintain control of the House.
The upcoming session, which will force the Legislature to come up with significant investments in public education, will be difficult, Ormsby said. "But I've been here for well over a decade, and I haven't seen an easy one yet," he added.
His said his goal will be to work with the best minds in both parties and both chambers to come up with a solution.
Ormsby's selection means a Spokane legislator from each party has led the main budget committee in each chamber over the last 20 years. Republican Jean Silver served for years as the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, and became chairwoman in 1995 after the GOP took control in the previous year's election. Republican Jim West was chairman of the Senate equivalent, the Ways and Means Committee when his party controlled the Senate in the mid 1990s, and Lisa Brown held the post later when Democrats regained the majority