OLYMPIA -- The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay is where, it seems, everyone wants to be. But some say not everyone belongs there.
“We, as taxpayers, are the bosses of our elected officials, and we’re saying no, get your work done, and then you can go watch golf,” said Heather Weiner, with the activist group Washington United for Fair Revenue.
Her group is calling out lawmakers for attending the U.S. Open instead of tending to a budget deal in Olympia. The group singled out Republican Sens. Bruce Dammeiers and Steve O’Ban. They both represent the regions around Chambers Bay, but are also members of the tax-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee.
“They’re the ones who need to be in the room with the negotiators,” said Weiner.
Neither senator would comment on camera, but a spokesperson responded saying, “It's their home turf. Of course, they should go to something like that. There's value for them to be there. "
The pressure in Olympia to get a budget deal done is mounting. The second special legislative session ends in just 10 days, and the current state fiscal year ends June 30. No funding has been approved for government agencies after June 30.
Layoff notices go out to state employees next week, and a government shutdown could affect 26,000 employees.
“There’s definitely a concern there,” said Steve Boessow, who works at the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Like everybody, I have house payments, and bills and a daughter in college, so yeah, there’s a concern.”
Legislative negotiators have been meeting daily with Gov. Jay Inslee.
“We’re working, and discussions are happening,” said Inslee. “We want people to get to an agreement.”
The governor is optimistic but contingency plans are being made in case an agreement can’t be reached. Those plans include keeping colleges running but closing state parks and several state offices.
The impasse over a budget deal continues to be over new taxes, and how to fully fund education.
While some lawmakers are attending the U.S. Open, apparently none of the actual budget negotiators plans to attend the golf championship while the stall remains over a budget deal.