After years of special sessions that have often pushed the state to the brink of shutdown, Reps. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, and Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, have joined forces to bring an end to the problem, introducing two budget process reform bills Thursday.
MacEwen’s bill would change the state’s fiscal year to coincide with the end of regular session. Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the fiscal year would begin May 1 in long, 105-day sessions and April 30 in short, 60-day sessions. The 35th District lawmaker says this simple change would prevent the Legislature from relying on additional sessions to finish its work.
“I find it impossible to believe we need to go into special session every year to complete our work on time,” said MacEwen. “Special sessions are a waste of taxpayers’ time and money, and we should be embarrassed that we continue to use them as a crutch year after year. I believe we should only be in Olympia for the allotted session time we’re given, and then get back to district to serve our constituents. This bill removes all excuses for not being able to do that.”
Since 2013, the Legislature has gone into special session 10 times, each of which has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
Kilduff’s legislation would create a constitutional amendment to restrict the Legislature from considering any bills not related to the operating budget if the budget has not been adopted by the 90th day of a 105-day session. The remaining 15 days would be required to be spent considering budget and NTIB (necessary to implement the budget) bills, prioritizing the work required to keep the state running.
“As elected officials, the people expect us to be accountable to them,” said Kilduff. “Our focus should be on delivering results, working hard, and finishing on time. If we cannot fulfill these basic duties, no other bills or policy matters until we pass the budget.”
The 2018 legislative session begins Jan. 8, and is scheduled to run for 60 consecutive days.