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Inslee says he’s helping lawmakers figure out top priorities, deal with issues outside budget

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on April 24, 2013 at 11:42 am |
April 24, 2013 11:44 am

Lawmakers are in crunch time for budget negotiations, but Gov. Jay Inslee went before reporters today to argue that it’s not all about the budget. With less than five days left in the regular session, the Democratic governor still wants to crack down on drunk drivers, keep guns out of the wrong hands, help young people brought to the country illegally go to college, guarantee insurance coverage for abortion, and raise taxes to fund transportation projects and maintenance.

Gov. Jay Inslee / AP FILE PHOTO
Gov. Jay Inslee / AP FILE PHOTO

His role is to make sure all those issues stay in the mix, he said. On the budget itself, he said he’s trying to get everyone to show their hands but not necessarily offering new ideas of his own to bridge the differences between the House and Senate budgets.

I can’t tell you that I’ve provided some Einsteinian way to solve some disagreements here. We are trying to in this process, in this process trying to figure out where the highest priority is for every part of the five corners (Inslee and the four partisan caucuses of the Legislature). And that’s the process of this discussion. And again, I think people are now getting down to brass tacks to figure that out.

But not without some reluctance, it seems:

I’m trying to get people to come to the table and put numbers on a piece of paper so we can get agreements on these things as rapidly as possible. There may be a thousand reasons that hasn’t happened to date. …. I’m going to get this done as quickly as we can, and I’m reporting to you that a) there are many things that need to be resolved, not just one thing, and b) the governor’s going to help everybody focus on all of those things, rather than just one thing, and c) I think people right now are doing as well as they can to reach sincere agreements.

Would extra time help?

Yes, I think it will. We’re trying to reach an amalgam, an agreement of people with widely diverse views and communities, and time does help in some degree. I’m going to try to compress that to the extent humanly possible.

Lawmakers will likely get more time. They appear headed toward a special session, and while Inslee said they would have to “draw to an inside straight” to finish in the constitutionally mandated 105 days, he said he hasn’t figured out when he would bring lawmakers back if they miss their deadline.

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