Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. (AP File/Ted S. Warren)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. (AP File/Ted S. Warren)

GOP lawmakers want special session; Dems say what’s the rush

Republicans want to tackle a deficit. Gov. Jay Inslee and other Dems are waiting to see what Congress does.

OLYMPIA – Republican state lawmakers on Monday again urged Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session to confront a multibillion-dollar budget deficit resulting from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As they have for months, members of the GOP caucuses in the Senate and House contend that dealing with the projected shortfall of roughly $9 billion in the next three years will require the Legislature to make some difficult decisions on funding state programs and services.

Those decisions are going to be tougher the longer the Democratic governor waits to summon lawmakers into an extra session, they said at a virtual news conference.

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, the minority party’s chief budget writer, warned of “draconian cuts” if the governor and majority Democrats “kick the can down the road” by waiting until the regular session in January to act.

Also Monday, GOP lawmakers said the two-term governor should not be spending billions of federal pandemic relief dollars without the involvement and consent of the Legislature. The legislative branch is responsible for appropriating tax dollars, they said.

“I feel like the governor has usurped our fiscal authority,” said Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, who did not participate in the news conference. “It is an abuse of power.”

A state law gives a governor the ability to spend unanticipated receipts that arrive when lawmakers are not in session. In the pandemic, the governor has reached out to legislative leaders in the process of making decisions on how to use the money, according to a spokeswoman.

“They see our proposal before we send it over. They make suggestions. We have accepted many of those,” said Communications Director Tara Lee. “The legislature, both fiscal and leadership, are in the middle of these decisions.”

Inslee has repeatedly said there’s no immediate need for a special session. The state has hefty reserves to handle challenges in the current budget, which runs through June. And he points to cost-cutting moves he’s made, such as a hiring freeze, worker furloughs and vetoes of items in the spending plan lawmakers passed in March.

Now, before deciding on a special session, Inslee wants to receive the next state revenue forecast, in September, and learn what additional federal aid will be coming to Washington.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said it’s pretty clear among Democrats that erasing the shortfall will require a blend of cuts, new revenue and federal funds. That final piece is an important one, he said.

“Things will be a lot clearer once we know what they’re going to do,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said he thinks a special session is “likely” — though it may be after November’s election.

“It is just a matter of the timing,” he said. “It is smart to wait until we have all the information we need to make the best decision for the people of Washington state.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Denise McKenzie, who has been a bartenders at Kuhnle’s Tavern for many years, works behind the bar on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 106 years, Kuhnle’s Tavern in Marysville is closing

Come say farewell Sunday from noon to midnight at the historic bar with five beers on tap and a 50-cent pay phone.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Everett
Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.