editorial in the Seattle Times captures what needs to happen if the legislature is going to meet the June 11th end of the special session. Unfortunately, it looks like we are still in a political tug of war between the Senate Coalition and the House Democrats.
In a $33 billion budget, the differences are relatively small. Reaching a deal before the June 11 end of the 30-day special session will require compromise on the revenue side from anti-tax absolutists in the Senate Republican caucus and sacrifice from social-service and labor advocates in the House Democratic caucus.
The Senate passed a budget bill on Saturday that included some concessions on revenue, but is still insisting on education reforms before they will take action on the bills. I have not yet seen a break down of their proposal to determine impact on our system, but will follow up this post when the comparisons are released. Senate Democrats and Governor Inslee view holding the revenue bills hostage for the reform measures as a step backwards.
And Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, the key budget writer for the chamber, said that the revenue-related bills won’t pass off the Senate floor “until we get the reforms that we’ve been asking for.”
“I’m all for putting more money and new money into the system, but not put it into the broken system that exists now,” he told fellow lawmakers on the Senate floor. “We need to fix that system.”
The Senate Coalition has now added a new dynamic to an already complex situation. In this article from today's Seattle Times we learn that the Senate Coalition now wants to place their education policy reforms in a referendum before the voters.
Republican Sen. Steve Litzow said that leaders had decided to put the ideas to a referendum as a concession in budget negotiations. The Senate wants three major reform bills passed as part of a final budget compromise, but the House has not approved the policy ideas.
One of the Senate proposals would give principals the option of rejecting teachers who are appointed to their schools. Another would place limits on the rate of growth for non-education spending in the state budget.
There is also a bill to change worker's compensation in the package proposed by the Senate Coalition. My sense is that this move will not be perceived by the Democratically controlled House as a positive step toward resolving the issues blocking the budget necessary to end this prolonged legislative session.