The state Legislature was forced into a special session due to state House Democrats refusing to do their jobs and pass a complete budget. Last week, Jay Inslee called a 30-day special session to begin on Wednesday, April 29—a decision that was made for highly partisan reasons.
Inslee also scheduled a closed-door meeting with state Senate Republican and House Democrat leaders for today. Apparently, our green governor would like to discuss what should be the special session’s top priorities. If his past “leadership” on our state’s key needs are any indication, we imagine the “advice” Inslee has for state lawmakers look something like this:
- “I’ll veto any budget that does not raise taxes.”
Inslee already informed state lawmakers of his veto plans during the last closed door session. As Shift reported, Inslee only managed to add to budget tensions at the start of negotiations when he made the ultimatum. Inslee’s demands included—and likely still include—fully funding state employee pay raises, which he negotiated with union executives in secret at a cost of nearly $1 billion to taxpayers. Inslee—like House Democrats—signaled he is willing to shutdown the state government in order to get what he wants. Sen. John Braun, one of the Senate GOP’s budget negotiators, commented of the closed door meeting, “It was a bit of an ultimatum … I walked out of there 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.”
- “Passing the 2015-17 operating budget and a transportation package are important, but I want environmental policies to be the top priorities.”
Jay Inslee failed to lead in every way during the 2015 legislative session. He failed to call on his fellow Democrats to do their jobs and pass a complete budget. He failed to call on his fellow Democrats to compromise. He failed to be an example in good faith negotiations. Rather, Inslee embodied what it means to be a partisan, divisive leader. That’s not something he is willing to give up—as he recently proved. In fact, rather than calling for the state Legislature (particularly House Democrats) to focus on getting the people’s vital business done by passing a budget and transportation package, Inslee decided to inject a hyper-partisan issue into an already highly partisan debate: his extreme green agenda. After calling for the special session, Inslee accused lawmakers of doing nothing on environmental issues and demanded they place his environmental policies on their agenda.
- “I was proud to participate in the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) rally on Saturday, but I was just to score political points. It doesn’t mean we have to fully fund Initiative 1351.”
The WEA has been happy to refrain from attacking House Democrats’ budget, almost exclusively reserving their untruthful accusations and deceptive criticism for Senate Republicans’ budget. The WEA’s main point of attack is the fact that the GOP budget does not fully fund I-1351, the “class-size reduction” initiative that would really just swell its union dues. Conveniently, the money-grabbing teachers union forgets the fact that the budget proposed by Democrats—not to mention Inslee’s budget—would do the same thing. The GOP budget proposal—just like Democrats’ proposal—assigns funding to reduce class-sizes for Kindergarten through the 3rd grade, altering I-1351’s call for K-12 class size reduction. As Shift has reported, the change aligns with research that shows reducing class sizes to the extent demanded by I-1351 has no impact after the 3rd grade. It would, however, achieve the union’s primary goal to create more dues-paying WEA members.
- “Cap-and-tax should still be part of the legislative agenda, even though it doesn’t even have enough votes to pass the Democrat-controlled state House.”
As part of his insistence that lawmakers consider environmental issues during the special session, Inslee is also renewing his call for his cap-and-tax scheme. According to Inslee spokesperson Jaime Smith, “using a carbon charge as part of a levy reform solution is one of the ideas being developed by a group of lawmakers who are working behind the scenes to advance the governor’s cap-and-trade proposal.” Democrat Rep. Reuven Carlyle, chair of the House Finance Committee, recently referred to the idea of a implementing a cap-and-tax scheme to reduce the unconstitutional use of local levy dollars “a super-exciting idea.” Carlyle—and his enthusiasm—is in the minority. Though Democrats have left Inslee’s cap-and-tax scheme on the table, they have thus far failed to step-up to support it. Although Democrats have tried to save face by suggesting they simply needed more time to figure out how the policy would be implemented, the truth is that Inslee could not even find enough Democrats willing to vote for his cap-and-tax scheme. It’s unclear whether or not a special session will do anything to help Inslee’s job-killing agenda.
- “The special session should take pressure off of Democrats to call for Troy Kelley’s immediate resignation… right?”
Jay Inslee was slow to respond to Democrat State Auditor Troy Kelley’s corruption scandal with any real disapproval. In fact, Inslee fervently defended Kelley until a federal grand jury’s 10-count criminal indictment forced him to stop. After news of the indictment broke, Inslee finally joined the Washington State Republican Party and various news outlets—including the Seattle Times—in calling for Kelley’s immediate resignation
Despite the clear stain he has placed on his office and the loss of public trust, Kelley has thus far refused to resign. Instead, he announced he would take a leave of absence beginning May 1st—it’s unclear whether or not this “leave of absence” will be taxpayer funded. His trial is scheduled to begin June 8. Kelley’s stubbornness works to the favor of Inslee and Democrats. If Kelley waits until after May 11th (the deadline for candidates to file for the November special election), whomever Inslee appoints to fill the position would be in office—without voters’ approval—until the following election.