1. Gov. Jay Inslee announced this morning that legislators have reached a budget deal.
Here's his statement:
"I am happy and I know we are all relieved to report to you that lawmakers have reached agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium. This allows us to avert a government shutdown on Monday. Legislative leaders tell me they will move as quickly as possible to pass the budget and get it to me for my signature. They say that can be done by 5pm Friday."
The senate budget leader, Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Redmond), announced that the deal would put $1 billion extra toward K-12 to meet the State Supreme Court's McLeary decision.
The deal also apparently includes a major win for the Democrats: They got their demand to close a telcom loophole worth $109 million without passing business-friendly workers' comp changes that the Republican-dominated senate had been fighting for and initially proposed as a trade for the telcom bill.
Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) would not give me any details until, he said, he briefs his caucus on the deal.
He did release a statement, which indicates (see my bold) that some of the "fantastical gimmicks" he'd complained about earlier in the session in the Republican-dominated senate's offer—such as $200 million savings from "efficiencies"— have not been fully resolved. (But that's just me; he would not speak to that.)
Here's his statement in full:
We’re satisfied that this budget makes good on our responsibility to fund the basic education expansion required by the McCleary decision, puts enough money into higher education that we don’t need to raise tuition this year, expands healthcare to almost 300,000 Washingtonians and handles our responsibilities for running a civil society – legal system, courts, prisons, foster care, for example.
The investments in this budget closely resemble those in the budget we passed earlier this year. But the funding of those investments is not sustainable in the future, and we have more work to do to meet our McCleary obligations.
I will report more details when I have them.
2. And another Jolt. The house Democrats have picked up an extra vote in favor of the $10 billion transportation package and are set to pass it today—after it failed by one vote yesterday.
They picked up Rep. Brian Blake (D-19, Aberdeen) who was one of six key votes against it yesterday. (There was a seventh, Rep. Marko Liias, D-21, Edmonds, but Liias voted 'No' on purpose; parliamentary procedure only allows a rep who voted 'No' to call up a bill for reconsideration. Knowing they were one vote short yesterday, Rep. Liias, a big supporrter of the package, voted 'No."
He'll vote 'Yes' today.
If I may, an "Isn't it Weird That" on this transportation vote.
Isn't it Weird that the business lobby, which is bullish on the transporattion package, could not deliver its crew—the Republican candidates it backs in elections over Democrats—while the hippie dippy environmental lobby delivered all its crowd, except for one vote, Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-44, Snohomish)?
Put another way: The business lobby delivered just one Republican, Rep. Hans Zeiger (R-25, Puyallup) while the enviro lobby delivered all but one vote, Rep. Dunshee.
We have a message in to Dunshee, by the way, to see why he voted 'No' yesterday.
Of course, no Republicans in the Republican-dominated senate seem prepared to vote for the package—it comes with a 10.5 cent gas tax—rendering the house vote symbolic, it would seem.