Greetings from Olympia
Today is the last day of the 30-day first special session. We had a flurry of activity during the last week of special session but have not arrived at a final budget agreement. With divided control of the Legislature (the House is controlled by Democrats and the Senate controlled by Republicans), everyone needs to compromise so we can get to a middle ground and move forward with a responsible, balanced budget. The House passed a compromise version of the budget that moved significantly toward the Senate position. This House Democratic proposal invests almost $1 billion additional funds for K-12 education and has a net reduction in taxes.
In response, the Senate Republican majority passed a budget on Sunday that was very similar to their original budget from regular session, failing to move toward a compromise. The Senate did propose three other revenue bills that, when added to their base budget, would bring the Senate Republican budget closer to the compromise House position and a budget deal. However, the Senate Republicans said they would not allow a vote on these revenue bills needed to make the budget balance until they receive passage of several unrelated policy bills, including a bill to expand pay-day lending in our state.
For compromise to work, we need to arrive at a middle ground and it takes an effort by all parties to get there. The middle ground is the right place to be both because of political necessity and because there’s usually a reasonable policy position in the middle. Further, most Washingtonians are near the middle politically so we reflect our state as a whole when we compromise.
The House budget, which I support, isn’t perfect but they made compromises in an effort to avoid a Government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends on July 1st, which would have devastating consequences for Washingtonians.
I think Governor Inslee did a nice job of summarizing the current budget situation and calling all sides to finalize an agreement and not hold out for an “ideological wish list.”
Here’s a link to his comments.
The Governor has called for a second special session starting tomorrow. Budget negotiations continue and we will all be focused on passing a budget before the June 30th deadline that represents the end of the current fiscal year.
I will continue to work towards a responsible budget that protects public safety, expands opportunity through strong public schools, and helps build prosperity throughout the State.
Hopefully my next newsletter will be a wrap-up of the final budget agreement. I appreciated the Seattle Times editorial board perspective on budget negotiations and the need to compromise.
Keeping In Touch
Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with questions or comments at any time. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at 360-786-7604. My legislative assistant, Paul Dillon, will be based in Spokane and you can reach him by email (email@example.com) or by phone at 509-209-2427.
And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!