AG asks state Supreme Court to give lawmakers more time; negotiators report good early discussions

The state Supreme Court, which held lawmakers in contempt last September, suspended imposition of penalties pending the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session. The regular session has ended; the special session begins Wednesday; and the state Attorney General duly filed a memo asking the Court to give lawmakers a little more time. 

Melissa Santos reports, 

The Attorney General’s Office was required to respond to the court Monday, the first day after the Legislature’s regular 2015 session, to explain what lawmakers had done to purge the contempt order and why the court shouldn’t impose sanctions.
…In Monday’s court filing, attorneys for the state argued that lawmakers are considering several education funding proposals that would satisfy parts of the McCleary ruling.

The McCleary mandate to increase funding for basic education has driven budget discussions. As the AG notes, both the Senate and House budgets provide substantial new funding to satisfy the Court’s requirements. The critical budget disagreements revolve around the need for new taxes and funding for other programs and services. 
On that score, the Seattle Times and the Spokesman-Review report that budget negotiators met yesterday to continue discussions. From the Times:

…state lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee met Monday at the governor’s office to discuss how to break the impasse between Democrats and Republicans over the state’s 2015-17 operating budget…

The meeting included Hunter and his counterpart, Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, the chief GOP budget writer. A handful of other lawmakers from each party attended, as well as David Schumacher, director of the state Office of Financial Management.

From the S-R:

“A useful meeting,” said House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

“A good discussion,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond.

It was, however, only a starting point, they said, for discussions that will continue in the special legislative session that starts Wednesday.

A spokesman for Inslee said the governor also was optimistic about a “climate for compromise” after the meeting.

That will please the Tri-City Herald editorial board, which calls for a swift conclusion to the special session.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to be ready to compromise, hammer out a budget and end the special session as early as possible.

Sounds good to us.