OLYMPIA — A frustrated Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday called a second special session of the 63rd Legislature starting Wednesday, because lawmakers continue to be deadlocked over the state budget.
“The Senate Majority Caucus is going to have to get off its ideological bandwagon and on to this effort to get an education funding package,” Inslee said, referring to the need for a spending plan that fulfills the state Supreme Court mandate to add more money to public schools.
The state Senate is controlled by 23 Republicans and two conservative Democrats who have chosen to join the caucus. Since the start of the regular session, the Senate and the Democratic-controlled House have been unable to come together on a budget deal.
The governor claims the Republican-controlled Senate is insisting on what he calls “non-budget” items as part of any final deal. Among them: reforms to the state’s workers compensation system; a bill to give principals more say over who teaches in their buildings; and a plan to cap the growth in non-education spending in the future.
“One side is not insisting on policy, ideological policy,” the governor said. “One side is. That is a clear difference.”
The Senate Republican leader, Mark Schoesler of Ritzville, denied that his party’s reform bills are inappropriate in the budget negotiations.
“I certainly don’t think fiscal responsibility or education accountability or job creation bills are ideological,” Schoesler said. “Those really are issues that Washington citizens do care about.”
Schoesler believes the state’s budget hole can be closed without raising revenue as the House Democrats the governor have insisted on.
“The solutions to the state aren’t just more money,” he said. “It’s spending it smarter and wiser.”
Inslee admitted that he has started contingency planning for a possible government shutdown if a budget deal isn’t reached by July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.