After informing the public the agreement details would be available at noon on Thursday, legislative leaders say they will be available Thursday night. With no clarification whether that is 5:00 pm or 11:59 pm, it will leave all of us interested in the outcome little time to analyze and determine if it is good, bad, or ugly.
In unusual times you need to be prepared for anything. Today, Governor Inslee and legislative leaders announced that the details, the hundreds of pages of Budget and McCleary solution agreements, will be available to the public one day before legislators must approve them in order to avoid a government shutdown. I hope the website doesn’t crash when everyone tries to get the details at the same time.
It has been announced as an “agreement in principle” but for all intents and purposes, legislative leaders have finally reached an agreement on the 2017-19 operating budget and a solution to K 12 McCleary funding. Details are not available and won’t be until they brief their caucuses. I expect details will leak out as soon as they start meeting with caucuses. Those happy with the agreement are likely to use social media during the meeting to divulge details, those unhappy will do the same in a last minute attempt to upset the deal.
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).