In Olympia, a Republican ultimatum threatens to push the Legislature into overtime. Dan Frizzell has the story in an audio report produced by the Washington State House Democratic Caucus.
Lawmakers in Olympia have two more weeks to get their business done, but a refusal by Republican senators to meet House Democrats at the negotiating table looks likely to make on-time adjournment impossible. Republicans run the Senate and voted for a multi-billion-dollar tax increase earlier this session, a tax increase designed mostly to hike property tax rates around the state. Now they are refusing to begin talks on a final state budget unless the Democratic majority in the House also votes for a tax increase first. It’s an interesting situation, but not one that Democrats are embracing. Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan is tired of waiting.
“We’re very frustrated in the fact that the Republicans won’t sit down and start negotiating a budget solution. I think the public expects and demands that we put aside partisan politics. If we can’t agree that we’re going to sit down at the table and actually negotiate a budget, we’re going to be here for a long time. And I think that’s a disservice to the public.”
The Legislature has one job this year: Come up with a budget that fully funds public schools – as ordered by the Supreme Court – while also paying for the other necessary functions of the state government. Sullivan knows compromise will be necessary, but says that’s impossible as long as Republicans refuse to negotiate. In the meantime, April 23 gets one day closer. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.