Morning Fizz: Wishful Thinking?
1. Despite a long day of behind the scenes budget negotiations, with Gov. Jay Inslee warning publicly that 50,000 state employees might receive temporary layoff notices next week in preparation for a government shutdown, no deal was reached yesterday.
Fizz is hearing bursts of optimism though, with both sides saying steady progress is being made toward a budget deal. And Republican state Sen. Joe Fain (R-47, Auburn) went as far as tweet last night: "plans to adjourn with a budget Sunday night. Good progress with house."
Don't believe the hype, several Democratic sources tell Fizz.
Sticking points remain: The Democrats, for example, insist that the state needs to close a land line telecom industry loophole (worth $109 million) or else face a budget-busting lawsuit from cellular companies who don't get the exemption. The Republicans don't want to sign off on it (even though business supports it, and it comes with a provision to help rural telcom companies in Republican turf in Eastern Washington).
The GOP trading card: a business-friendly change to workers' comp rules which the Democrats (or more accurately, their labor union supporters) adamantly oppose.
2. And don't expect a transportation funding package, though. Republicans simply won't sign off on new taxes. The Democratic proposal calls for a 10-cent gas tax increase.
3. It's not just Democrats and Republicans who are squabbling, though. The AP reports that Republican Sen. Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) has filed a complaint with the secretary of the senate against Republican Sen. Ann Rivers (R-18, La Center). Sen. Benton says Rivers has berated him twice—once on the senate floor on April 19 and once again in caucus, and he thought she might even hit him during what he called "an uncontrollable tirade."
4. File this one under rumor, but Fizz has heard from several sources that the investigation into Michael King, the former executive director of the state Senate Democratic Campaign Committee who was fired after being accused of stealing up to $100,000 from the Democrats, has found that King may have stolen as much as $250,000 to $300,000.
And one source quips: "We probably wouldn't be in special session now if we'd had $100,000 more to spend during last year's election" ... a reference to the fact that the Republicans won a nail biter senate race in Vancouver (the aforementioned Sen. Benton), giving the Republicans the numbers to control the state senate.
PubliCola broke the story about King last February.
We have a message in to the Democrats' attorneys for a formal update on the case.