On Monday, Jay Inslee announced that he would not sign any more bills until lawmakers agreed to a supplemental budget. Inslee apparently wants people to think he is concerned that legislators will not wrap up the 2016 legislative session on time, by midnight this Thursday.
“The reason I am taking this step is that we do not want to allow legislators to drag the state to 24 hours before a government shutdown like they did during the first two biennial budgets,” Inslee said during a media availability. “It is apparent to me that having a deadline could be useful to focus their attentions on their job. We are making it clear that they need to focus on their job if their bills are going to get signed.”
Our green governor forgets that, unlike what he would like the public to believe, he was part of the problem during the first two biennial budgets. As Shift has pointed out, during the 2013 and 2015 legislative session, Inslee prolonged budget negotiations by insisting on acting like a “player on the field” rather than a leader helping the two legislative bodies find compromise.
Prior to every budget negotiation, Inslee appeared dead-set on obstructing budget talks via his extreme partisan demands. He went as far as to threaten Republican lawmakers that he would veto any budget bill that did not raise taxes last year. Ultimately, lawmakers booted him out of negotiations.
The fact that Inslee is now scolding legislators for their failure to reach an agreement in the past is the height of hypocrisy.
But, that’s not the only problem with Inslee’s announcement.
Reportedly, with three days left in the legislative session, there are 35 bills waiting for his signature and hundreds more expected to head his way. All face the threat of Inslee’s veto.
Or, do they?
Inslee appears to be threatening a pocket veto (exercising veto power over the bills by taking no action). But, our green, green governor does not appear to realize that, unlike the President of the United States, he does not have pocket veto power.
If Inslee does not act on a bill during the allotted timeframe, it automatically becomes law. It does not need his signature.
Evidently someone informed Inslee of his error before the press conference ended, as he responded to a question by saying he would veto all billsc. So, unless Inslee actually uses his veto power on every bill (we imagine that would be very bad PR for our green governor) that is currently on his desk or that reaches his desk, his threat is baseless.
If Inslee is truly concerned with wrapping up the legislative session on time, he would do better to inform fellow Democrats in the state House that a supplemental budget is not just another way to raise taxes and increasing spending by a half billion.