Jay Inslee, hoping to look like he actually is doing something in Olympia, delivered an empty threat on Monday. Our green governor threatened not sign any more bills until lawmakers agreed to a supplemental budget. Apparently, Inslee believed that would effectively veto the bills.
The only problem is that our green governor did not realize that, unlike the President of the United States, he does not have pocket veto power. If he fails to sign a bill by the state’s defined timeframe, the bill simply becomes law.
So, in order to follow through on his threat, he would have to deliberately veto every bill (that would make for some exceptionally bad PR).
“Inslee’s veto gambit, if the Legislature doesn’t meet his deadline of reaching substantial agreement by midnight Thursday, threatens to undo important bipartisan legislation, bills supported by Inslee and the Democrats as well as by Schoesler and his fellow Republicans.
“On the block are bills that would fund work to track rape kits and end the backlog at the state crime lab, keep the state’s charter schools open, reauthorize a program that prevents Medicaid fraud and many more. The vetoed bills would likely return next year, but vetoes would delay the good they can do now and only add to what the Legislature would have to do next year.”
Given that Inslee never bothered to make an ultimatum to lawmakers in the past, The Chronicle speculates that our green governor is “feeling a bit rushed.” You see, like other state officials, Inslee cannot raise money for his re-election campaign until after the state Legislature adjourns.
Inslee will face off against Republican Bill Bryant in November. Undoubtedly, after multiple state agency scandals and a truly lackluster policy record, our green governor is eager to begin that task of trying to fool voters into thinking he’s really an effective leader of our state.
Ironically, by threatening to veto bills, Inslee reinforces the perception that he is just a partisan hack and a weak leader. Delivering an ultimatum that he does not actually have the power to carry out without doing damage to himself and his party was a rookie move by Inslee.
The ultimatum reveals Inslee’s inability to actually lead. And, it leaves him with two no-win options. Inslee could carry out his threat come Friday and deal with the public backlash of deliberately vetoing popular bills. Or, he could break his ultimatum and admit that his threats are hollow.
Interestingly enough, Inslee signed a bill he supported into law the day after issuing his “no-signing” ultimatum.
Of course, the best-case scenario for Inslee is if lawmakers agree to a supplemental budget by midnight on Thursday. Certainly, if lawmakers reach a deal, it would be despite of Inslee’s failed leadership and not due to his empty threats.