Governor threatens bill vetoes if Legislature fails to pass budget on time

Yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee said that he would veto bills passed by the Legislature unless lawmakers adopt a supplemental budget by Thursday, March 10, the scheduled last day of the regular session. (TVW video here.) The Associated Press reports,

At a news conference Monday, Inslee said that while negotiations between the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate are continuing, lawmakers “need to pick up that pace substantially.”

…Inslee said that so far more than 30 bills have passed the Legislature and are awaiting his signature, and that many more are expected to make their way to his desk.

At first Inslee just said he wouldn’t sign the bills, but then clarified that his message to lawmakers is much stronger: “Your bills are going to get vetoed if you don’t do your job and pass a budget.”

In Publicola, John Stang writes

Both sides believe almost a couple hundred million dollars should be appropriated to cover the extra expenses of fighting roughly one million acres of wild fires in 2015. But the GOP wants only minor tweaks beyond that.

However, the Democrats want to bump rookie teachers’ salaries from $37,500 a year to $40,000 and add a one percent teachers’ salary increase. Republicans entered the budget talks opposing those measures. Democrats also want to take millions of dollars from the state’s “rainy day” reserve fund to allocate to programs to help the homeless.

And Democrats want to close four tax breaks that would raise an extra $102 million in fiscal 2016-2017.

The Washington Research Council points out that most of the maintenance level changes relate to health care programs administered by the Health Care Authority. 

The AP reports on legislative responses to the governor’s veto warning.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler seemed to question whether Inslee would follow through with his threat…

Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that the governor’s threat is “his prerogative.”

“As long as we as legislators focus on getting the budget done, that point becomes moot,” he said.

Sullivan adds that he believes lawmakers can meet the deadline. We’re inclined to agree. But, as we wrote here, anything can happen.