Budget deadlock jeopardizes transportation package, triggers protests and layoff notices

The Associated Press today reports that the ongoing budget deadlock has jeopardized the comprehensive transportation package that promised to be this legislature’s signature accomplishment.

House Democrats in Washington state have stopped negotiations on a transportation revenue package until a state operating budget deal is reached, the chamber’s key transportation negotiator said Wednesday.

…[House Transportation Chairwoman Judy] Clibborn says that both sides had been close to coming to agreement on a transportation funding package that would include a gas tax increase to pay for projects across the state. Clibborn says she’s frustrated by the development, but says that both sides are close enough to a transportation agreement that they could move quickly once a final state budget deal has been struck.

While Clibborn says she’s optimistic, even if it means a third special session for transportation, the delay adds to concerns that lawmakers may leave Olympia without acting on transportation. That would be a huge loss for the state.

The ongoing negotiations also have state workers concerned. The Olympian reports that tomorrow will be another day of protest

Another AP story reports that layoff notices will go out next week unless budget negotiators reach agreement. But,

Even as officials plan for a potential partial shutdown, Gov. Jay Inslee does not believe that will happen, spokesman David Postman said Tuesday.

In Crosscut, John Stang writes,

So far, the Legislature has never failed to meet a biennial budget agreement deadline.

But in 2013, a then-new cast of leaders flirted dangerously close to partly shutting down the state government.

Eventually, soon, the budget uncertainty will come to an end. When it does, lawmakers should not leave Olympia until they pass the transportation package.