Legislative Updates

Second Special Legislative Session- Not So Special

The Budget Battles Continue…..The Legislature must agree on the final details of the two-year state operating budget by June 30th, or state agencies will go into partial shutdown.   The odds of needing a third special session when this second special session expires on June 21 seem highly likely, mirroring the same actions that occurred in 2015…

If the Legislature should drag on into July…the state will have to stop spending money because without an operating budget.  Under state constitution, when the end of the fiscal year is near and a budget deal has not been cut, state agencies must develop contingency plans for a partial shutdown. The state doesn’t have the legal authority to spend money for certain things such as: salaries for 26,000 state employees; keeping state parks, boating access sites, or wildlife areas open; issuing hunting/fishing licenses; and many state-run, state-funded health and human services programs.

So, not certain whether lawmakers can make a deal by the end of June or not.  If not, can you say “Train-wreck”?

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2017 Regular Legislative Session Adjourns Without A Budget Deal Again…

After 105 days in Olympia, state legislators failed to reach an agreement on the details of the state operating budget, and went home for the weekend.  It’s no surprise to anyone who’s been around on the hill since January; is this even news?  Yet, another lackluster performance on budget negotiations.

During the regular session each political party assigned blame for the absence of negotiations.  The closely divided Senate (R’s by 1) blames the House. The closely divided House (D’s by 2) blames the Senate.  Consequently, Governor Inslee has called the Legislature into a 30-day special session.  And, if their past performance is an indicator of how well they negotiate, there will be likely more than one special session.  In 2013 and 2015, they went into double overtime.

House Democrats are not going to get all the of the tax increases they seek.  Senate Republicans are not going to suddenly roll over. By the same token, Senate Republicans cannot hope to satisfy the McCleary mandate of $3.8 billion dollars without more dedicated revenue or by shifting a complicated property tax decision to voters.

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