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Lawmakers discuss final day of session, possibility of special session

by caprecord

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders told TVW’s Anita Kissee on Thursday they believe they might reach a supplemental budget deal by the end of the night, but it will likely take a special session to complete their work. The regular 60-day session ends at midnight Thursday.

Lawmakers spoke as part of a special Sine Die edition of “The Impact” at the Capitol. Watch interviews from the Sine Die show here.

“I’m disappointed we aren’t going to have something on the governor’s desk today,” said Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger. “There’s plenty of budget all over Olympia. But an agreed upon one, no.”

Budget writer Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said there might be a “handshake” deal tonight, followed by a period of time to check the document.

“This is a real document that does things,” Dunshee said. “You don’t just want to send a hundred million dollar check to uncle Bernie.”

Lawmakers on the set of the Sine Die show at the Capitol

Sen. Mark Shoesler, R-Ritzville said he was disappointed that negotiations are not where they should be. He emphasized the need for a four-year balanced budget.

“It should be important to every taxpayer in the state of Washington,” he said.” It brings stability to budgeting, predictability and honesty.”

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, said the a four-year balanced budget is nonnegotiable and one of the main differences between the House and the Senate proposals.

“We need to resolve that. We can no longer kick the can down the road, like both parties use to do,” she said.

Democratic leadership from the House say their budget does comply with the four-year balanced budget requirements.

“We are within the law,” Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington said. “We moved more than halfway to the middle and I think that in good faith we are working toward that goal.”

Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, says that the House has been focused on other issues besides the budget. She said the Democratic budget team has been working as fast as possible, but “getting it done right takes precedence over getting it done right on time.”

Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, and Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, spoke on behalf of the House Republicans. Kretz said wildfires must be addressed in the supplemental budget, but it shouldn’t be remedied through the rainy day fund.

“There’s a temptation here to say ‘fire’ and go crazy on the budget stabilization account,” he said. “I think we need to be honest with what parts of the fire are truly emergency situations.”

Kristiansen said lawmakers remain at at a “stalemate” over the supplemental budget, in part because of a disagreement over whether or not to eliminate certain tax breaks.

Senate Democratic minority leaders Sen. Sharon Nelson, D- Maury Island, and Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, say they are optimistic a deal will be struck by tonight.

“The governor has been exerting his leadership, keeping everybody talking and I’m hoping that by the end of the day we will at least have a budget agreement,” Nelson said.

Billig said this time last year there wasn’t any conversation going on about the budget.

“This year it’s a different atmosphere where everybody seems to be driving toward getting it done and the negotiations are on going,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee has called a press conference for 10:30 p.m. Thursday — TVW will carry it live. He has threatened to veto bills if lawmakers did not have a budget deal by Thursday. The governor has also said he will immediately call lawmakers back into special session on Friday to complete a supplemental budget.

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