The 2015 legislative session will adjourn today, two days before the scheduled Sunday, April 26 deadline. But, that’s only because lawmakers are set to return for a special session to finish the people’s work, including a two-year operating budget and a transportation package.
Jay Inslee called for a special session to begin on Wednesday. House and Senate budget negotiators are scheduled to resume talks on Monday.
In a written statement, Inslee said he considers passage of an operating budget the top priority of the upcoming special session. He also called for lawmakers to pass a transportation package and… a series of environment-focused bills he backs.
Perhaps the most disingenuous part of his statement came when he emphasized the importance that “all sides compromise” for the sake of getting the “people’s work done.” If Inslee were serious about achieving results, he would have called for Democrats, specifically, to compromise—certainly, Republicans have done more than their part to negotiate in good faith. He would have called for Democrats to do their jobs and pass a complete budget package, not just a $39 billion spending package.
Inslee also should have led his party members on the issue of compromise before the state Legislature was forced to enter a special session. Instead, he only managed to add to the difficulty of negotiations by threatening to veto any budget that does not raise taxes – including his favorite, a state income tax on capital gains.
As Shift has pointed out, it is House Democrats who have failed to enter in to budget negotiations in good faith. After all, how are Senate Republicans expected to negotiate when House Democrats cannot even prove they have the necessary votes to pass their spending package’s key funding mechanisms? Democrat leaders have thus far refused to bring the taxes—measures entirely necessary to their “budget”—they proposed for a floor vote. Either they don’t have the votes and they know it, or the House leadership lacks the political courage to vote on their taxes.
The same goes for the bi-partisan transportation package that House Democrats refuse to act on, a bi-partisan package that the state Senate passed more than one month ago. Senate Republicans proved they are willing to make tough compromises in order to meet urgent transportation needs—their bi-partisan transportation package passed with the support of seven Democrats. House Democrats have yet to prove they are willing to do the same. Rather, they choose to hold our state’s transportation needs hostage to their tax demands.
The upcoming special session will end only when House Speaker Frank Chopp and Jay Inslee accept the reality that Democrats no longer exclusively control Olympia. They must do their jobs and compromise, knowing that there is a state Senate led by fiscal conservatives that are committed to passing a state budget that lives within our means.
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