Seattle Times reports progress in state budget talks; Illinois’ record budget fail just got harder to fix

Things may be getting better in Olympia. Joseph O’Sullivan reports in the Seattle Times that lawmakers are narrowing their options, bringing budget talks closer to an agreement. 

As the Legislature last week drifted into its second special session without agreeing on either, Gov. Jay Inslee tried to make life easier for lawmakers…

The governor said the capital gains tax was a no-go and sharply criticized the Senate’s property tax swap. 

As a route to compromise, he suggested a pair of smaller House Democratic revenue proposals — changes to a real-estate tax and a proposal to expand the state’s collection of online sales tax. The governor also hinted he’d be open to a smaller property-tax adjustment.

A B&O tax increase originally included in the House revenue package, then, may also be off the table. For more information on the House proposals, see this Washington Research Council brief.

O’Sullivan reports Senate Republicans also appear open to compromise.

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia and chief GOP budget writer, said Inslee’s move helped lawmakers who are negotiating — up to a point.

“We’re in a bit of a bind,” Braun said. “And to that extent the governor helped a bit by suggesting some of the stuff come off the table.”

But Republicans still have “some frustration” with the unwillingness by Democrats to vote on their proposed taxes, Braun said. That includes the smaller proposals suggested by Inslee.

It sounds like progress. And to see what a budget fail looks like, consider Illinois

Illinois is currently the only state ever to go two years without passing a state budget, and the task this year just got harder.

Until June 1, Illinois only required a simple majority in each chamber to pass a budget. Since lawmakers failed to meet that June 1 deadline again this year, a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber is now required to pass the budget. The provision is intended to encourage lawmakers to pass the state budget well before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, but in the state’s current situation, the law makes a daunting task even more challenging.

So things could be much worse. Feel better?