Washington Legislative Update: Budget Gridlock Forces Second Special Session

With budget negotiations still at a stalemate, the Washington State Legislature ended their first special session on May 28 and began their second special session the very next day. Gov. Jay Inslee says he wants to host daily budget negotiations in his office.

Late last week the Senate released its second budget proposal which ceded some ground to the House. The House is expected to release their counter proposal early this week. The debate continues to hinge on whether or not to raise taxes. The House has been insisting that additional tax revenue is needed to ensure a sustainable budget.

The Senate’s position is that the economy will generate the money needed, via existing taxes and fees. Neither of the two Senate budget proposals has included a tax increase. Bolstering the Senate’s position, state economists’ recently-released May revenue forecast projected an additional $400 million in revenues through mid-2017.

One sign of progress last week was passage of a bill to keep state transportation projects moving. The bill sets aside $3.8 billion for capital construction projects; $2.3 billion for operating programs; and $1.5 billion for paying down debts. A separate transportation budget to pay for new projects is still being negotiated.

The legislature has until July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, to agree on and approve new operating and capital budgets for the upcoming 2015-17 biennium.  Just in case they can’t reach an agreement in time, preparations are underway for a partial government shutdown. Two years ago, state government came close to a partial shutdown before the legislature agreed on a budget the last week of June.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.