Senate Ultimatum Puts Construction Projects, Jobs, in Jeopardy

With less than 48 hours left in their third overtime period, lawmakers in Olympia are locked in a stalemate that could result in pink slips for workers throughout the state. Dan Frizzell has that story in this audio report produced by the Washington State House Democratic Caucus.

SULLIVAN: “We’ve got a capital budget that passed out of the House of Representatives with a 92-to-one vote. Obviously getting a solution around water is critical as well, but each should be operating on their own merits.” [:11]

That’s how state House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan sums up the final showdown in a long legislative session.  Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House, as well as Senate Democrats, want a straight-up vote on the capital budget, which funds construction projects all over Washington.  The Republicans who control the Senate by a single vote, though, are refusing to discuss the construction budget without passage of an unrelated bill dealing with water wells in some rural areas of the state.  At stake are more than four billion dollars in construction projects, including a billion for public schools classrooms and nearly that much on college campuses. Throw in mental health facilities, projects to reduce homelessness, environmental projects and more, and the problem becomes clear.  Sullivan, a Democrat from Covington, hears the clock ticking.

SULLIVAN: “The Senate Republicans have said that they won’t negotiate a capital budget until we have a decision around the exempt well issue.  We believe again that you should really take each on their own merit.  It’s just been frustrating that the capital budget is being held hostage for a policy bill that really doesn’t directly relate.” [:19]

Without that crucial cooperation from Senate Republican leaders, the Legislature will adjourn for the year Thursday afternoon – after 195 days in session – without a capital budget for the first time in the state’s history.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.