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Should WA State Legislators do a D.C. Thing?

Our Washington State legislators are in another “Special Session”. They are in session to approve a State Budget. However, some want to depart from this purpose. Budget negotiations are the main concern since agreement failed in the regular session.

The House proposed a partisan $34.33 billion budget with new taxes and the Senate proposed a bi-partisan $33.21 billion budget with no new taxes. That is a difference of more than $1 billion.  It is the largest difference they have had to deal with. Instead of focusing exclusively on the budget, Gov. Inslee wants the special session to take on policy issues other than the budget. In fact, he has placed a priority on some of the most controversial bills that failed to pass in the regular session.

The issues on the Governor’s agenda are background checks for the sale of guns, funding college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, tougher laws on drunk driving, and a bill mandating that all insurance policies cover abortion.

Inslee’s experience is from the other Washington where they have not agreed on a budget since 2009. Budget negotiations in D.C. traditionally become a Fiscal Cliff or Sequester drama.   It goes like this: budget discussions hang in limbo due to hot button political disagreements. So far, Washington State has tried to avoid that game. We do not need it here, and we do not want it here.

Our legislators debated the controversial policy issues on Inslee’s agenda already and did not agree at all. In the case of the abortion insurance mandate bill, a motion to bring it up for a vote was defeated twice. An opportunity to take up these old issues will come again next year.

The cost of a special session in Olympia is something taxpayers want to keep to a bare minimum.  It is estimated that a 30 day “Special Session” cost around $300,000 two years ago, but today it will cost much more (and was unnecessary in the first place).

Voters who want their elected representatives to make the budget the priority in this “Special Session” may contact legislators at the legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and tell them to stay on topic and not focus on unrelated issues. Or you can email them by clicking here.

Categories: Budget and Finance, News, Politics
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