Gov. Jay Inslee held a brief press conference this morning to announce a budget deal has been reached and a state-government shutdown is averted on Monday. The Democrat hopes the Senate and House send him the agreement for signing by 5 p.m. Friday and he said government operations will continue Monday as normal.
Inslee refused to take questions during the brief press conference at which he was joined by Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, House Speaker Frank Chopp, ranking House Republican budget writer Gary Alexander and others.
The governor’s statement is here:
“I am happy and I know we are all relieved to report to you that lawmakers have reached agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium.
“This allows us to avert a government shutdown on Monday.
“Legislative leaders tell me they will move as quickly as possible to pass the budget and get it to me for my signature.
“They say that can be done by 5 pm Friday.
“However, the deal reached today makes it clear that state government will continue to operate.
“We will be notifying state employees to report to work Monday, July 1.
“Government operations will not be interrupted. All government functions will be in operation Monday.
“Washington will be at work Monday.”
Inslee spokesman David Postman said the budget proviso issue sought by Boeing on fish-consumption standards was delinked from the budget. So apparently was legislation requiring better public disclosure of financial information by companies receiving tax breaks.
Postman also said lawmakers would keep working on the transportation package sought by Inslee after an operating budget is passed. Lawmakers also have a potential $3.5 billion capital-construction budget to pass, authorizing hundreds of projects across the state.
Senate Ways and Means chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond, put out the first statement offering details of a $33.6 billion agreement:
“All year I’ve been working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Legislature to establish a sustainable plan that prioritizes education and lives within our means,” said Hill, of Redmond, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “I’m looking forward to finalizing and voting on a budget that puts an additional 1 billion dollars directly toward the basic-education obligations associated with the McCleary court ruling; protects our state’s economic slow but steady recovery; and provides relief for college students and their parents by ending tuition increases during the upcoming two year budget.”
The budget accord comes after both the Senate and House of Representatives passed their own budgets during the Legislature’s regular and first special session, but were unable to find agreement in both chambers on a single proposal. It allocates $33.6 billion from the state’s general fund and related accounts to cover the costs of state government programs beginning with K-12 education; providing for the latter is state government’s paramount constitutional duty.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done and I won’t stop until the plan is approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but I’m pleased that we were able to work together in good faith to find a compromise while still holding firm to prioritize the education of more than a million students statewide.”
House Democrats put out a brief statement of their own, including this statement from House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington:
“I am very pleased we have a budget agreement that takes a good first step toward meeting our obligation to fund schools, extends health care coverage to 300,000 more people, and maintains vital services for our most vulnerable.
“I’m also glad that we addressed two other court decisions that had the potential to drain our budget of more than $1 billion.
“This is a good budget. However, it doesn’t address the underlying questions we need to answer before we can honestly say we’ve met our long-term commitment to education in our state.”