The clock runs out this Sunday evening on the Washington state Legislature’s regular session, and any buzzer-beating agreements on state operating and transportation budgets seem unlikely with the current divide between Democrats and Republicans on taxes measuring out at $900 million.
Gov. Jay Inslee spent much of Wednesday giving the news media his honest assessment, telling reporters the odds of getting done on time were roughly the same as drawing “an inside straight.”
A member of the Legislature suggests that if bills are taken up for universal background checks for gun purchases, requiring insurers who provide pregnancy and childbirth coverage to also cover abortion procedures, and extend college tuition assistance to illegal immigrants (a.k.a., the DREAM Act), lawmakers will get a green light to go back to work in fixing a looming budget deficit and addressing a state Supreme Court mandate to make public K-12 education the first priority of state government.
Though the Legislature can vote itself back into session by a two-thirds vote, the governor has the power to do so unilaterally. However, Gov. Jay Inslee may not approve the overtime unless legislators agree to move ahead three non-budget items on his agenda – the Reproductive Parity Act, background checks for gun purchases, and allowing state college tuition assistance for illegal immigrants – according to sources in Olympia.
A spokesperson for Inslee said the idea that the Governor’s decision on a possible special session was conditional was “inaccurate.”
“[Inslee] has said that in addition to the budget and finding agreement on funding for education, much remains to be done including DUI legislation, RPA, gun safety and DREAM Act,” Inslee spokesperson Jaime Smith told us by email.
Those issues are likely to feature prominently in Democratic messaging during the 2014 congressional campaigns and would be centerpiece talking points for Inslee in his eventual campaign for re-election.
Would hesitation on Inslee’s part – for any reason – be perceived by the state Supreme Court as interference with its McLeary “paramount duty” mandate?
[Note: Our original story stated that only the governor could call a special session. The story above reflects the accurate information.]