Gov. Jay Inslee convened his Cabinet leaders Wednesday afternoon, and he gave the agency directors an outline to follow if the Legislature’s gridlock forces a state government shut down. The new budget cycle begins July 1 and agencies need a clear budget authorization to spend money for many services and programs.
A two-page memo from the governor’s budget director David Schumacher to agency directors and statewide elected officials asks them to make lists of services that can continue and those that cannot under a shut down.
Lists are due by 5 p.m. Monday. Schumacher identifies four categories:
Services that can continue because they are funded by a transportation budget already signed into law for 2013-15;
Services funded by non-appropriated sources that don’t require a legislation authorization;
Services that can continue due to constitutional mandates or federal law;
Services and programs that will cease to operate on July 1, the first day of the next biennium.
Former governors prepared executive orders to deal with shutdowns that were a possibility in 1991 and 2001. But as we reported almost two weeks ago, there also was a time in 1951 when the Supreme Court struck down the state budget and the governor said no warrants or checks would be issued by the state.
Wednesday marked the first day of a second special session for the Legislature this year. Lawmakers are high-centered on questions of taxes and reforms – as the GOP-led Senate majority coalition holds out against tax hikes and insists on reforms the Democrat-controlled House does not want to mix into the talks on how much to spend and how to pay for it.
The Legislature faces a $1.2 billion shortfall for the two-year budget cycle that begins July 1, as well as a Supreme Court mandate to boost education funding, which lawmakers variosly interpret as a requirement to increase funding by $500 million to $1.4 billion in the one biennium and about $4.5 billion over three biennia.