Lawmakers this legislative session had two fundamental responsibilities: Come up with a full plan for K-12 education funding and pass a supplemental budget.
But as legislators and lobbyists filtered out of the Capitol building Thursday night—the last day of the 60-day session—there was no budget agreement in sight and lawmakers weeks ago had decided to largely defer action on the education money problem.
Instead, Gov. Jay Inslee called a special 30-day overtime session, which began Thursday night, and after 10 p.m., vetoed 27 bills — making good on a threat to reject various pieces of legislation if lawmakers failed to compromise on the big picture.
As the Times reports, state legislators are mired in the same kind of gridlock that has, year after year, extended the legislative session beyond its expected end date. While they did pass some bills, including a "plan to make a plan" to address education funding, as the Times describes it, they failed to negotiate a budget by the end of the session last night. What are they arguing over?
Instead of the $38.2 billion 2015-17 state operating budget that kept lawmakers in Olympia last year into July, legislators now are quibbling over a few hundred million dollars on a supplemental budget.
“They had 60 days to make some relatively minor adjustments,” Inslee said.
Pay raises for teachers and tax breaks reportedly remain points of contention in the closed-door negotiations.
Inslee's veto threat came earlier this week as he grew frustrated with the slow pace of budget negotiations. Both Democrats and Republicans lost bills to his veto pen last night. Lawmakers will now have to override the veto, pass the bills again, or bring them back next year. Inslee did sign some bills he says have to do with public health or public safety. Budget talks are expected to resume today.