TNT: Trim tax talk in 2nd special session; Olympia makes plans for possible shutdown

The News Tribune editorial board offers the governor and legislators some budget advice.

We hate to break the bad news, but the Democrats in Olympia will have to downsize their ambitions for new taxes to get a new state budget passed.

It’s a dose of realpolitik. The editorial argues that three factors militate against tax increases: new money has continued to roll in, Republicans control the Senate, and Democrats haven’t yet mustered the votes to pass their proposed revenue hikes. So it’s time to move on to what’s possible.

If the governor aspires to be a genuine mediator and deal-maker, this would be a good time to demonstrate it. Suggestion: Don’t start things off by handing down a tax ultimatum.

The Seattle Times made a similar argument earlier, suggesting that the latest revenue forecast neutralized many of the arguments for increased taxes.
The windfall relieves the need for a big surge in new taxes.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who proposed a $1.4 billion new tax package in December, acknowledged as much this week, and took his proposal off the table. “We’ve got quite a bit of string of good fortune here,” Inslee said.

While it would appear to most outside Olympia that a deal should be in reach, the disagreement on the need for new taxes (something considerably less than $1.4 billion) is still a substantial sticking point. And, with just a few weeks remaining in the current fiscal year, the possibility of a government shutdown cannot be discounted, as the Seattle Times reports.

They say it probably won’t come to pass, but state officials nonetheless have drawn up plans for a partial government shutdown if bickering state legislators can’t agree on a budget by the end of June.

…state agencies will lose authority to pay workers and continue operations if a budget is not enacted by June 30.

As the AP points out

The to-do list for the Washington state Legislature hasn’t changed much since lawmakers first gathered in Olympia in January.

The list includes the budget, transportation funding, and McCleary compliance. About where we began. But now there’s little time left to complete the work. If deadlines are motivating – and they often are – we should see real progress soon.