The Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) is planning a statewide “Unity Break” (a job walkout) on Thursday, June 18 to protest the state Senate Republican’s responsible budget proposal. So, reading between the lines, that means the state House Democrats must be planning on still being in session on June 18 in order to support this stung by one of their million-dollar campaign donors.
In a message to its supporters, the WFSE claims Senate Republicans are “willing to push us toward a shutdown of government come July 1 with thousands of Federation members laid off.” It goes on to state that if the Senate does not move “toward the reasonable House budget by [the scheduled Unity Break], we will be on a brink a shutdown and layoffs that will harm the vulnerable, the disabled, travelers, public safety and natural resources.”
The WFSE’s ridiculous claims could not be further from the truth. Never mind the fact that the union calls Democrats’ budget “responsible” (check out why that’s not true here), the WFSE’s attempts to lay blame for a potential state government shutdown on Senate Republicans is just what Shift has been expected to hear from the far left.
Since the start of regular session, Senate Republicans pushed House Democrats to act responsibly on the state budget. Republicans even offered a timetable guideline to introduce and negotiate the state budget in hopes of completing the people’s business on time. Democrats ignored the timeline and presented their spending plan late – and even that doesn’t even qualify as a “budget” since it doesn’t balance without taxes that the House won’t even vote on. There was no excuse for House Democrats’ tardiness. Their initial spending plan was essentially a carbon copy of the one Jay Inslee proposed in December.
Adding insult to injury, House Democrats did not enter into budget negotiations in good faith. They refused to vote on their tax proposals—tax proposals necessary to fund their historic spending increases that include nearly one billion in state employee pay and benefit hikes as conceded by Inslee during secret negotiations with union executives. While Senate Republicans kicked-off budget negotiations with a complete and balanced budget, House Democrats entered into negotiations with nothing more than a spending package and a strong desire to raise taxes.
Unfortunately, House Democrats have yet to remedy the rift by voting on their tax proposals. As Shift pointed out, House Democrats’ refusal to take a vote on their tax hikes is a move of self-preservation. They don’t want to go on record of having voted for a new tax without assurance that said tax will pass. Democrats’ political cowardice indicates that there is actually one thing they care more about then rewarding special interests: rewarding themselves.
The reality is that House Democrats—and Inslee with his ridiculous ultimatums—have acted as the chief obstructers to successfully passing a state budget. As Shift has stated, the state Legislature will be able to adjourn—and avoid a state government shutdown—once Democrats (including Inslee) realize their tax increases are unnecessary and work with Senate Republicans to pass a balanced and sustainable state budget.