According to new reports, lawmakers in the Republican-controlled state Senate and the Democrat-controlled state House have tentatively agreed on a spending level for the budget. The Everett Herald reports,
“Settling on a level of spending – known amongst Olympia insiders as the “size of the box” – is the pivotal decision that’s eluded lawmakers for 140 days of regular and special sessions. As the week began, House Democrats and Senate Republicans – who hold the majority in their respective chamber – were at least $500 million apart…
“Once a level is agreed upon, House Democrats and Senate Republicans can more easily decide how to spend the money and what policies to pursue.”
All week, lawmakers have met in Jay Inslee’s office to discuss the budget where our green governor “has been acting as a referee.” Once they reach agreement on the spending level the daily meetings may stop, according to David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management. Then, Schumacher said, Inslee will “want to make sure his priorities are considered as the pieces of a final budget are put in place.”
In other words, Inslee will abandon his role as a negotiator and revert back to being an advocate for his extreme agenda—a role that has only managed to obstruct the budget negotiation process. As Republican state Sen. Joe Fain recently put it, our green governor has thus far acted like a “cheerleader for the left” in budget talks. Apparently, he is ready to resume his role after this week.
Inslee has been a force of harm throughout the budget negotiation process. His decision to put aside his obstructive ways for a mere week does not change that fact. Time and time again, Inslee proved he is not a leader. Rather, he is a mere “player on the field.” Here are three examples of times Inslee attempted to lead and failed… just this year.
- Inslee failed as a leader when he… placed his extreme green agenda ahead of the people’s business, again and again.
Inslee relentlessly championed his extreme green agenda—specifically his cap-and-tax scheme throughout the legislative session. He repeatedly asked lawmakers to re-consider his green agenda. Prior to the start of the special session, Inslee tasked lawmakers with reconsidering his cap-and-tax scheme as a top priority, even though he failed to garner enough support among members of his own party to pass it out of the Democrat-controlled state House during the regular session.
Inslee began his push for his cap-and-tax scheme long before the start of the 2015 legislative session. As Shift reported, on December 18, 2014, Inslee revealed that he believes his extreme green agenda takes precedence over achieving a state budget in an email to supporters. The email reads, “This is bigger than just one year’s budget. This is about moving our state in a new direction, and I need your help to get there.” On January 27, 2015, Inslee sent an email for the purpose of garnering public support for his cap-and-tax scheme in the Legislature. The email charged recipients not to let the opposition—i.e. Republicans and taxpayers concerned about their wallets —“stall our progress.”
Inslee’s unfounded attack on Senate Republicans (GOP lawmakers were not the only ones that opposed his cap-and-tax scheme) brings us to his second big fail as a leader…
- Inslee failed as a leader when he… engaged in hyper-partisan attacks on Senate Republicans.
Inslee began his hyper-partisan attacks on Republican lawmakers long before the 2015 legislative session even began. He sent a clear message via emails to his supporters based on one theme: partisanship. On November 19, 2014, Inslee sent an email to supporters that opened with a statement foreshadowing how our green governor would approach the upcoming session. The email read, “My Democratic colleagues and I have a very long to-do list for the next legislative session, and there’s not a lot of time to get it all done.”
As Shift reported, perhaps the most obvious example of Inslee’s D.C.-style leadership is his hyper-partisan effort to promote House Democrats’ agenda by disparaging state Senate Republicans. On February 16, 2015, Inslee sent an email promoting Democrats’ paid sick leave and $12 minimum wage bills (which were really disguised attempts to give more power to unions). On March 5, 2015, Inslee followed-up the email by praising House Democrats for passing the bills and insinuating Senate Republicans have failed to grant their support because the bills “lift up all Washingtonians.” He asked email recipients to “help convince” the state Senate via an online petition.
Inslee never intended to complete the people’s business in a timely manner through a bi-partisan effort. For Inslee, it was and is about achieving a specific partisan agenda, even at the expense of taxpayers.
- Inslee failed as a leader when he… threatened to veto any budget that does not raise taxes.
From the very beginning of budget negotiations, Inslee appeared dead-set on obstructing budget talks via his extreme partisan demands. In April, Inslee managed to add to budget tensions when he made certain demands to legislators during a closed-door session. Republican lawmakers say Inslee threatened to veto any budget bill that does not raise taxes. Republican state Sen. John Braun expressed his shock over Inslee’s ultimatum. He said he walked out of Inslee’s office thinking, “Wow, he just told us we’ve got to run his budget or the House (Democrats’) budget or we’re gonna shut this place down.” Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said Inslee was “committed to taxes at all costs.”
Inslee’s demands also included fully funding state employee pay raises, which he negotiated with union executives in secret at a cost of nearly $1 billion to taxpayers. Additionally, Inslee said he would not “accept borrowing from the state capital budget, vague “efficiency” savings, nor sign any tax cut” until his demand is met.
A quick review of Inslee’s track record as governor grants an explanation as to why the state Legislature has yet to pass a state budget: lawmakers have had to deal with natural partisan tensions AND a governor bent on adding to the tension ten-fold by making his hyper-partisan agenda the center of attention. Shift has said it before and we’ll keep saying it, the state Legislature will be able to adjourn—and avoid a state government shutdown—once Inslee and Democrats realize their tax increases are unnecessary and work with Senate Republicans to pass a state budget. As for Inslee, given his sorry track record as a leader, lawmakers appear better off without his obstructive involvement.