Budget negotiators are starting to leak information that they are very close to reaching an agreement on the 2017-19 operating budget and a McCleary education funding plan. Though the official announcement has not yet come out it is expected in the coming hours!
House leaders just scheduled a return to Olympia tomorrow morning. That good news came on the heels of an announcement by House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan that the parties were very close to reaching an agreement. Now that both sides have returned to Olympia legislators have a good chance of finishing off the 2017 session before the June 30 deadline.
The stage is being set for the concluding (hopefully) act of the 2017 legislative session(s). All Senators have been asked to return to Olympia, leaders are caucusing with their members, and they have scheduled floor sessions (I hope they will be voting on a new budget, a McCleary solution, and the many bills to implement the new budget.)
What will they be considering? We won’t know the details until they have gotten the necessary support from their caucus.
Critically important is that House leaders have not asked their members to return to Olympia and they have not scheduled the same activities as the Senate. If they don’t schedule them in the next day or two, we are back to the government shutdown/budget extension debate and anxiety.
There aren’t any signs that budget negotiators are getting close to reaching a budget agreement or McCleary solution. As we head into a warm weekend – forecast for 95 degrees in Olympia, look for major blowups and finger pointing in the coming days and hours as we get closer to June 27 (the real date when the deals must solidify since it takes a couple days to get legislators together and prepare the paperwork). If they don’t get it done, they will make history as the first legislature in state history to cause a government shutdown or the first legislature in state history to adopt a temporary one month budget in order to give them more time to negotiate and delay a government shutdown.
The only way they can avoid making history is to reach an agreement in the next 4 days.
In 2 hours, Governor Inslee will start the 3rd special session. With only 9 days left before the current budget expires (and therefore all funding for state funded programs), budget negotiators have as much pressure on them as possible to reach an agreement. Strategically, they will need to announce the agreement by the 26th, no later than the 27th, in order to get everybody to town, brief them on the agreement and to get the staff to prepare the paperwork so they have all the information necessary for the final votes. Will they make it in time? My guess, and it is only a guess, is they won’t.
Will there be a government shutdown? My guess, and it is only a guess, is there won’t be a government shutdown because they will pass a one or two month extension of current state funding.
Sitting on the sidelines impatiently watching this is the Supreme Court demanding that they reach a conclusion to fully fund K 12 education. Will they add another sanction to the $100,000 per day fine to get the legislators to take their order seriously?
$168 million new dollars, in normal situations, should be enough to overcome the budget and K 12 negotiation stalemate. From reading the facial expressions and listening to the two chief budget negotiators answer questions from the press at this morning’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, I am more convinced than ever that they may not finish these negotiations by June 30.
Does that mean there will be a government shutdown? Possibly but not necessarily. Another option is they may pass the first ever budget extension to give the negotiators more time. By continuing to fund current services at current levels for a couple more months, they buy more time. The downside to this is this last unbreakable deadline has been broken giving future budget negotiators convenient excuses not to finish on time.
I have compiled the attached list of bills that will become laws as a result of the 2017 regular legislative session. Proud to see PSE’s paraeducator bill finally on the list of new laws!
When the legislature finishes the 2017 special sessions, I will provide another list of bills passed during those sessions (so far nothing has passed).
The legislature has released the details of its new 2017-2019 operating budget.
Thankfully, PSE’s collective bargaining agreements at WWU and CWU are included in the budget and funded, as is the health care agreement. Among many other improvements to working conditions, the WWU and CWU contracts provide a 6% wage increase over the course of the biennium. The legislature is scheduled to vote on the budget later today, just hours before the deadline.
For more details on the budget, please visit Doug Nelson’s legislative blog. PSE will provide an update once the budget is approved.
With a little over a week to go before the end of the second special session, there are few if any signs that budget negotiations are close to the end. Now they are coming close to a government shutdown. Maybe the June 30 deadline to avoid the shutdown will help them reach a deal.
Since the second special session ends on June 21, I expect Governor Inslee to immediately call them back to a third special session so they can try one last time to complete their negotiations.
Another thirty day special session started on May 23. Will this one be more successful? Hard to tell but there were some hopeful comments from both republican and democratic negotiators that they were making good progress on K 12 education funding issues. However, there are plenty of other issues, like the overall budget, that don’t appear to have the positive mojo that they need. Oh well, nothing like a firm deadline (June 30) to focus their efforts.