It’s been a long legislative season. Like, record-breaking triple overtime long.
And yet, beleaguered Washington legislators were unable to resolve a few of the biggest issues on the table. After negotiations broke down this week, the third special session unceremoniously adjourned Thursday.
The remaining sticking points are a rural water-use bill and a capital construction bill that would fund $4 billion worth of statewide projects, including $1 billion for building and renovating schools. Without the school facilities money, some lawmakers worry the state is unable to comply with the McLeary decision, even after striking an education-funding deal.
Meanwhile, frustration has been mounting in Olympia and around the state, and earlier this week Gov. Jay Inslee couldn’t resist an opportunity to throw some shade across the aisle.
Speaking to a friendly crowd at the Washington State Labor Council Convention, the Democratic governor had a few choice words for Republican lawmakers Tuesday. After touting budget victories by preserving funding for homeless and mental health services, Inslee turned his focus to the GOP.
“You gotta watch these people, they’re kinda sneaky,” he told the crowd at the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver. “You gotta be on the job 24/7. You can’t give ‘em a window. They’ll steal your lunch money if you let ‘em.”
Inslee's comments referred to what he described as Republicans' attempts to put business tax cuts into the state budget bill during late-night negotiations.
Nevertheless, “these people” found enough of a window to “roll” urban Democrats during budget negotiations, according to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat. Earlier this month, Westneat criticized Washington Democrats for losing a political “game of chicken” with the GOP by agreeing to higher property taxes in the Seattle area while creating business tax loopholes. (Inslee later vetoed a tax cut for manufacturers that legislators agreed to, a move Republicans said would hurt future negotiations).
It’s unclear if lawmakers could reconvene to strike a deal on the water-use or capital construction bills. Inslee’s spokesperson has said the governor would only call another special session if lawmakers had an agreement they were ready to vote on.