No deal in Olympia; special session inevitable
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State lawmakers admit they have reached a stalemate and there's no way a budget compromise can be reached by Sunday's regular session deadline.
They said an overtime special session is inevitable.
"This is a challenge and I recognize that," said Gov. Jay Inslee of the effort to get done on time. In past sessions the governor has required lawmakers to stay in session until the very last minute to try to get a compromise. But this time it appears there is no hope of a settlement between the Senate Republican budget and the House Democratic budget.
"Both budgets are DOA," said Sen. Andy Billig, R-Spokane. "We've got to focus on the one budget that counts, which is the compromise 'go home' budget."
But after four months of a regular session, there is no compromise. Just finger-pointing. The Democrats in the House say the Senate Republicans are refusing to negotiate. "It's time for them to sit down and say what in the house package or what in their package can be mutually agreed to instead of the 'bomb throwing, " said state Sen. Sharon Nelson, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate.
"I think that's wishful thinking on their part," said Sen. Mark Schoesler, the Republican majority leader in the Senate. "We have conversations, I can guarantee you. Sen. (John) Braun talks to his counterparts at least daily."
But formal talks have not yet happened. Senate Republicans first want to see a House vote on a tax increase plan to pay for education and how much the total school issue, called McCleary, will cost.
(The Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that lawmakers weren't meeting their constitutional responsibility to fully fund basic education The ruling is known as the McCleary decision.)
"The progress is slow," said Rep. Pat Sullivan, Democratic majority leader in the House. "If we're waiting to do the rest of the budget after we get done with the McCleary solution, we're going to be here for a very long time."
Sen. Schoesler was asked, "So who's fault is this?" He replied, "You know I think we are dealing with the most complex problem in a generation."
Senate Republicans rely on property taxes with voter approval. The House Democrats top proposal relies on property taxes and a capital gains tax, though no vote has been taken.
Normally both houses would stay in full session all the way through Sunday. But since they've given up hope for a quick solution they say they'll likely take the weekend off and have the governor call them back to begin the overtime session Monday at a cost of up to $20,000 a day.