It appears the Legislature is headed for another special session to try to settle some complicated issues. Reporter cartoon/Frank Shiers

Lawmakers brace for overtime in Olympia | The Petri Dish

  • Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:49pm
  • Opinion

The countdown to special session is underway.

Truthfully, it’s been going on for awhile among those in the fraternity of lawmakers, lobbyists and legislative staff toiling in the Capitol. They’re all used to not finishing on time – which this year means by Sunday, April 23 – and a few don’t know any other way.

The special session will be here soon. Just depends on what day Gov. Jay Inslee decides he wants to kick it off.

Who or what is to blame this year? There are plenty of perspectives.

It’s the House Democrats fault: They are the majority. They passed a $44.9 billion two-year budget. It relies on $3 billion more in taxes. House leaders refuse to vote on their package of new capital gains and carbon taxes, and higher business taxes. They say the votes are there but it’s a waste of time to cast them since the package is D.O.A. in the Senate. Republicans say pass the tax bill then we’ll negotiate.

It’s the Senate Republicans fault: They are in control. They’ve steadfastly refused to seriously negotiate until House Democrats vote on their tax bill. They know it has no chance of success in the Senate yet are determined to stand their ground. They say they took the hard vote when they approved a new statewide property tax in their $43.3 billion budget. They insist House Democrats take the hard vote, too. That’s not expected to happen.

It’s the Supreme Court’s fault: Justices are demanding the Legislature fix an unconstitutional public school funding system and pay the full cost of a basic education of its students. They’ve set a deadline and are imposing a $100,000-a-day fine to keep up the pressure on lawmakers. Any solution is expensive, complicated and taking longer than anyone expected. Meanwhile, the high court’s decision in the Hirst case rewrote the rules on water and property rights. It’s driven a wedge between urban and rural lawmakers on how best to respond, if at all.

It’s the feds’ fault: Federal officials are monitoring safety and security improvements at Western State Hospital, the state’s largest psychiatric hospital. Millions of dollars in federal funding will be lost if those officials aren’t satisfied. Complying with all their demands is not cheap or easy. Lawmakers are debating the pace and path needed to prevent losing the money.

It’s the economy’s fault: Washington’s economy is one of the hottest of any state in the nation — even with layoffs at the Boeing Co. It’s producing a lot of money from existing sources of taxes. This is a political problem. It’s hard to argue for new and higher taxes when the budget reserves are bulging with a couple billion dollars. It’s hard for any lawmaker in either party to say no when the state is sitting on all this dough. It’s so much easier to say “Sorry, we can’t” in a recession — though everyone agrees they don’t want to see one of those for awhile.

It’s the governor’s fault: Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t to blame for the impasse between the House and Senate. Nor is he responsible for ending it. He is the state’s chief executive. He does share responsibility for ensuring compliance with those court dictates and federal demands. That means he’s no innocent bystander.

It’s Sound Transit’s fault: Isn’t everything Sound Transit’s fault?

It’s kind of our fault: Nearly every one of the 147 men and women serving in the Legislature are there by the choice of voters. None ran on a platform of compromise, concession and voting on whatever gets the Legislature out on time. Rather, some pledged to make wealthy individuals and big businesses shoulder a greater burden of those education and social service costs while others vowed to provide those same guys with greater tax relief. Some lawmakers campaigned on expanding the social safety net and broadening environmental protections while others promised to pursue reforms ensuring the neediest are served and any new rules aren’t too restrictive on the private sector. Conflict is an inevitable byproduct.

Just like special session.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

More in Opinion

State taxed with the challenge of keeping up with a robust economy

Gov. Inslee: ‘Our revenue system is designed for a Model T economy in an Internet Age’

Carbon fee hurts business and families | Brunell

Reduce pollution in our atmosphere without punishing workers and families

Kavanaugh and the court of public opinion

By Karen Shepherd/For the Auburn Reporter The recent Brett Kavanaugh op-ed by… Continue reading

School is back in session, and KCLS is ready to help

It is fall and a busy time for teachers, students and parents.… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee. REPORTER FILE PHOTO
He’s not on the ballot, but Inslee is campaigning like it

Republicans may find votes in making the election a referendum of the Democratic governor’s agenda

Avoiding trouble tweeting

Think hard before posting an angry, irresponsible or accusatory message

What’s really going on at King County Solid Waste?

Deliberate misrepresentation of facts and opportunities?

Living in an era when emotions, opinions outweigh facts

“In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and… Continue reading

Lampson beating odds for family-owned businesses

They are the backbone of the American economy

Move forward on water quality standards

In an unfortunate reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to… Continue reading

Even with postage paid, voters couldn’t send ballots on time

While those ballots don’t get counted, taxpayers still must pay the Postal Service for delivering them

Their I-940 made the ballot, but not the version they prefer

A much-divided state Supreme Court blew up an unusual compromise when it… Continue reading