Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Monday that the state faces a government shutdown on July 1 if lawmakers cannot come up with a budget despite having two special sessions to get the job done.
“Here we are, once again, going through the totally unnecessary step of preparing for a government shutdown in a matter of weeks,” Inslee said.
“We are now at a position where one small glitch could put us into a government shutdown given the number of things they need to decide,” he said.
Inslee said that he is now notifying state employees and vendors about the potential July closure. The governor could call for a third special session so lawmakers have more time to decide on a budget. But even if they have more time, legislators only have until June 21 to pass a budget and prevent an interruption of public services.
Inslee also announced he is “kick starting” negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. He said they were previously uninterested in his offers for negotiations, but are now more receptive. The governor said that both parties know what the other will not agree to. They should have been working with that knowledge to get to a middle ground, he said, and there is no reason why they have taken so long.
Washington’s budget is increasingly challenging as the state has been ordered by its own Supreme Court to fully fund K-12 education. That challenge has been approached differently by Republicans and Democrats. Inslee said that whatever is decided, he thinks that the state will have to find additional revenue to meet the court’s order.
“There is simply no way to amply fund our schools without significant additional revenue,” Inslee said. “If there was an easy way to do this, indeed it would have been done already.”