House Democrats and Senate Republicans announced Monday they’ve reached a deal on the supplemental budget and will vote on it Tuesday, as lawmakers move closer toward a conclusion of their overtime special session. Meanwhile, the Senate returned to the floor Monday to pass several bills and to start taking votes to override the vetoes of 27 bills by Gov. Jay Inslee. Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said now that the governor has signaled he was OK with the overrides, it’s now likely Democratic House members would be willing to take that rare action.
House Democrats have decided to change the purpose of the short session by trying to significantly alter the budget that took nearly seven months to negotiate last year. In order to accomplish their goals, House Democrats plan to raid state reserves and ignore the budget’s four-year outlook requirement that lawmakers approved in 2012.
State legislators have now failed to reach a budget agreement without going into a special session six times in the last seven years. Washington was still ranked the fifth most polarized state in the nation in 2015, according to research by Boris Shor, a professor at Georgetown University. Since the late 1980s, Washington has had the third most polarized state government.
A change to a little-known tax provision for national network TV broadcasters could help pave the way to a budget compromise in Olympia. The current and back taxes could bring about $81 million through the 2019 budget year — which lawmakers could use in their negotiations to reach a budget agreement.
In the new Senate operating budget proposal, combined, spending would increase by $177.3 million over enacted 2015-17 appropriations. The new proposal would increase NGFS+ spending by $143.7 million more than in the Senate-passed version. The new proposal would save $21.1 million NGFS+ in the Department of Natural Resources by using Budget Stabilization Account funds for fire suppression rather than the general fund.
Legislators concluded the 60-day regular session Thursday night without a budget deal and promptly began a special session, at the governor’s direction, in search of one. Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed 27 bills Thursday night in response to the failure of the House and Senate to agree on a supplemental spending plan before adjourning. All of the 37 bills passed with strong bipartisan support. Lawmakers could try to override the 27 vetoes. Or any bill can be reintroduced and approved again during the special session.
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