Gov. Inslee at press conference
Gov. Jay Inslee called for a second special session to begin Wednesday as his advisers prepare for what could be an unprecedented government shutdown if the Legislature doesn’t adopt a budget by July 1.
Even though both the House and Senate have passed budgets in recent days, they were not able to come to a compromise before the end of the current 30-day special session on Tuesday.
Democrats control the House, while the Senate is controlled by the mostly Republican Senate Majority Coalition.
“The position we’re in today is sadly the inevitable result of a lack of substantive compromise from the Senate majority,” Inslee said. “By continuing to refuse to compromise, the Republican majority in the Senate can stall until the government can’t operate.”
The governor said his advisers are preparing for the possibility of a government shutdown if there is no budget agreement in place by the end of the month, when the current budget cycle ends.
Memos are going out to state agency directors to gather information for a contingency plan, and Inslee is meeting with his cabinet leaders on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
“Let’s be clear, if there is no budget by July 1st the law doesn’t allow us to keep government operating fully,” Inslee said.
Senator Majority Leader Rodney Tom said earlier in the day that a government shutdown is “not in the realm of possibilities.”
“We’re going to get out of town” before that happens, Tom said.
The Senate majority passed a budget on Saturday, and said they will consider about $300 million in new tax revenue if the Legislature also adopts three policy bills as part of a compromise.
Tom said that the Senate has compromised by putting “$300 million on the table,” and by moving toward the middle on Medicaid expansion and collective bargaining. He said that the revenue offer was a “substantial move” on the part of the Senate.
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said the time to debate policy bills was during the 105-day regular session. He said the House has “gone over halfway” to meet the Senate.
“It takes two sides to negotiate,” Sullivan said.
The House passed budget last week that spends about $800 million less than Democrats had originally proposed. The plan would raise an additional $255 million dollars in tax revenue for education by closing several tax breaks.
Watch Inslee’s press conference here.