Lawmakers passed a supplemental budget today – finally. The plan adds about $191 million in new spending to the current $38.2 billion budget which was approved last July. Nearly $40 million of that will be directed to mental health programs and another $7 million to “help recruit and retain K-12 staff and support for beginning educators.”
As Shift has pointed out, the supplemental budget will not impose new taxes to pay for the spending increase, though that’s what Democrats from Jay Inslee to House Speaker Frank Chopp demanded. The debate over whether or not to include tax increases is what held up negotiations in the first place (apparently no one informed Democrats that a supplemental budget is not just another opportunity for them to raise taxes).
So, once again, the Democrats’ tax-obsessed agenda was thwarted thanks to the Republican-controlled State Senate – and the re-election fear among a few House Democrats which kept Speaker Chopp from even bringing his tax increases up for a vote.
The Democrat-controlled State House passed the final budget on a 78-17 vote. The vote tally reveals something rather interesting about Speaker Chopp’s previously ironclad grasp over his caucus.
You see, a mere 44 Democrats voted for the compromise supplemental budget. That means this is the first budget vote that Chopp has failed to generate 50 or more Democrats to vote for since he became Speaker 13 years ago.
Chopp has spent the last 13 years positioning himself as arguably the most powerful Democrat in our state. That, as Shift previously reported, is beginning to change.
Though his control may be weakening, Chopp can (at the very least) rest assured that he is doing better in the respect-among-fellow-Democrats department than the nominal leader of his party, Jay Inslee.
Following the passage of the supplemental budget, the House got to the business of overriding the 27 vetoes Inslee issued in his failed attempt to exercise his nonexistent leadership muscles (the Senate voted to override the vetoes on Monday).
According to the Spokesman Review, the override votes in the House varied from a high of 89-5 to a low of 75-17. Oddly, for every vote the House took to override the vetoes, several Democrats voted “no” despite the fact that they supported the original bill.
Democrats taking the conflicting votes on vetoed bills they previosuly liked can only be explained as them not wanting to be seen as undermining Inslee. Of course, using that logic, that’s a very small number of the 50 Democrats in the House who have much respect for our green governor. That explains a lot, especially given the fact that Inslee has not been able to convince his fellow Democrats to pass any of his top priorities (read, climate change) since he moved into the governor’s mansion four legislative sessions ago.
Every session since Inslee took office has served as proof of his incompetent so-called “leadership”. This year’s session was just more of the same for our green governor.