OLYMPIA — With just seven days to go and the Legislature still in deadlock, Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday seemed to be laying the groundwork for who’s going to get blamed next week if the clock runs out and there’s still no budget deal.
He pointed to their proposal last week that would reduce the estate tax for a number of wealthy Washington families. Inslee said that would put the budget tens of millions of dollars further into the red when he believes lawmakers should be increasing revenue to meet a court mandate to fully fund education.
“At a time when we all should be working together to plug that hole,” Inslee said, “the Senate majority wants to knock another hole in the ship and take on more water.”
Inslee said the move was “shocking” at this stage in the budget negotiations. “Instead of focusing on a million children, we are focusing on 210 multimillion-dollar estates,” he said.
When asked for reaction to the governor’s comments, the Senate Republican leader said the estate tax plan was only a “work in progress.” He, too, expressed frustration about where things stand over the budget negotiations.
“They’re moving, but there not moving as fast as any of us would really like,” said Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “We’d all like to be farther along in that process.”
Meetings continue to take place behind closed doors, but, given the tone of the governor, it doesn’t seem likely that they will get done by next Tuesday –when the 30-day special session will expire. He typically makes jokes with reporters, but there was none of that.
Legislators must reach a budget deal by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, or else there is a good likelihood of a state government shutdown.