Screenshot from a press conference by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Screenshot from a press conference by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Republican state lawmakers want special session

Gov. Jay Inslee and other Democrats are waiting to see what Congress does.

Republican state lawmakers on Aug. 17 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 (Aug. 17), 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.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Sound Publishing file photo)
House Democrats lay out massive $26B transportation package funded by gas tax hike

An 18-cent gas tax increase and a fee on carbon emissions would fund new roads and more.

File photo
Report: 70 percent of gun deaths in Washington are attributable to suicide

Research done at The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview… Continue reading

June 2018 algae bloom. Photo courtesy of Department of Ecology
Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten health of Puget Sound

Wastewater treatment plants account for about 70% of the excess nutrients.

Robert Allen, 61, had never been homeless in his life before 2019, when he lost his housing. The chef has been trying to get back on his feet, and hopes to open a nonprofit and make hot sauce. File photo
King County implements 0.01% sales tax to raise money for housing the homeless

Officials plan to buy hotels, motels and nursing homes for conversion into permanent housing.

Teaser
Social media site Parler returns after registering with Sammamish company

The right-wing social media website is not being hosted by Epik, but registered its domain.

Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo
State lawmakers propose bill to fast-track the governor’s reopening plan

Bill’s sponsors want to give legislature control over COVID-19 restrictions.

Fentanyl. (Courtesy photo)
King County reports record numbers of drug overdose deaths

Preliminary toxicology testing shows most overdose victims used multiple types of drugs.

Jay Inslee takes the oath of office for his third term as governor. (Governor Jay Inslee)
Governor Inslee: We are going forward toward a ‘new normal’

At the start of an historic third term, the governor is charting a course out of the pandemic.

Most Read