As the Washington Legislature approaches a June 30 budget deadline, Gov. Jay Inslee says he will veto any temporary delay, and Seattle Public Schools begins issuing pink slips.
Don’t worry, Washington: State lawmakers say they’re confident they’ll pass a budget deal and school-funding plan before a partial government shutdown kicks in next week.
But they also have a backup plan — just in case they don’t.
And Gov. Jay Inslee could veto the backup, saying he will block any proposal to delay the June 30 budget deadline.
So, everything’s fine in Olympia. Right?
Here’s a roundup of all the McCleary action over the past week:
On June 16, Seattle schools chief Larry Nyland sent a memo to the School Board notifying directors that the district sent 40 pink slips to teachers and other school staff, partly because of the state-budget impasse.
Districts had until June 15 to notify teachers of any layoffs, and Nyland estimated his district still faces a $50 million budget shortfall for the 2017-18 school year.
“At this point all options seem to fall far short of McCleary and far short of balancing Seattle’s budget,” Nyland wrote in his memo. “We continue to face the reality that our state has been underfunding compensation for school district staff for more than 30 years.”
The governor continued a statewide tour in Walla Walla on June 16 to push for support of his plan to meet the Supreme Court’s order that the state fully fund public schools.
Inslee’s preferred McCleary fix would add about $8 billion to the education budget over current spending, according to The Union-Bulletin.
“But there will have to be compromise. I’ll have to agree to some things I don’t think are best,” Inslee said.
By Monday, the governor told public-radio station KNKX that House Democrats and Senate Republicans have made “little improvement” on a budget deal.
“They still have miles and miles to go,” he said.
The governor’s office and state agencies have been preparing for a potential shutdown for weeks, KNKX reported.
But rumors have circulated for months, according to Seattle Times reporter Joseph O’Sullivan, that the GOP may propose a temporary budget to keep state government afloat if lawmakers remain deadlocked.
The Legislature received an updated economic and revenue forecast Tuesday, and the picture doesn’t look good — or grim.
The state will collect about $160 million more than expected over the next two years. But as many Capitol reporters noted, that’s not necessarily a game-changer for the deadlocked budget negotiations.
“It doesn’t hurt us at all. It doesn’t help much,” said Timm Ormbsy, the Spokane Democrat who is the House budget writer.
His counterpart in the Senate told reporters he’s “comfortable” both sides will reach a compromise soon.
But if they don’t?
“Of course we have a backup plan,” said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia. “We always have a backup plan.”
On Wednesday, the Legislature’s second overtime session officially ended. A third started almost immediately.
In a news conference announcing the new special session, Inslee stressed the importance of avoiding a shutdown on July 1. He also batted away the idea of a short-term, 30-day budget to offer lawmakers more negotiating time, according to The Seattle Times.
“They cannot continue to kick this can down the road,” Inslee said.