Shortly before midnight, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the 2015-2017 state operating budget, averting a partial government shutdown today. Melissa Santos reports in The News Tribune,
“I am delighted to be here, because quite frankly, this is a darn good budget for the people of the state of Washington,” Inslee said upon signing the bill at about 11:35 p.m. Tuesday. “It’s forward-thinking, it’s responsible, and it’s fair.”
But even as lawmakers applauded the accomplishment, they became locked in a stalemate that threatened progress on a handful of other bills, including a statewide transportation package.Those bills included HB 2266, which would delay the start of Initiative 1351, the class-size-reduction measure voters approved in November. Lawmakers have said they cannot find the billions of dollars needed to pay for it, and the budget just signed by Inslee doesn’t fund it.When HB 2266 came to the Senate floor shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, it failed to gain the two-thirds majority vote it needed. After the vote, the Senate adjourned until Friday.
Democrats said they could muster the required votes [to defer 1351 for four years] if Senate Republicans would approve a school testing reform bill that already cleared the House. Among other things, that legislation would remove a requirement that students pass a test in biology or an approved alternative to graduate from high school, which supporters said would help 2,000 of this year’s seniors earn a diploma.
So while the shutdown has been avoided and the new fiscal year begins, the third special session will continue pending resolution of unfinished business.