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Gov. Inslee won’t sign any bills if legislators don’t finish budget on time

A poll conducted by challenger Bill Bryant shows that less than 40 percent of Washington voters believe Gov. Jay Inslee deserves to be re-elected. (AP)

Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that he will not sign any bills coming his way if legislators in Olympia do not finish the budget on time.

“This morning I let leadership know that they should not expect me to sign bills until they reach a budget agreement,” Inslee said.

“Doing a budget is their first job. They need to do their first job,” he said. “Then, and only then, can we start to look at these bills that are not going to be signed unless we get a budget.”

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Inslee spoke at a media briefing Monday afternoon and argued that there is no reason legislators can not have a budget to his desk by midnight Thursday, noting that there is no recession or other extraordinary circumstances. He said he is wary of making “veto threats.” Inslee said, however, he was prompted to take the stand because, despite some progress being made, negotiations are not happening at a sufficient pace.

“The reason I am taking this step is that we do not want to allow legislators to drag the state to 24 hours before a government shutdown like they did during the first two biennial budgets,” Inslee said. “It is apparent to me that having a deadline could be useful to focus their attentions on their job. We are making it clear that they need to focus on their job if their bills are going to get signed.”

Inslee said that about 35 bills are currently awaiting his signature, and hundreds more are en route to his desk. There are four days left in the current session.

The governor said Republicans and Democrats are not too far apart on making a deal. And despite repeating his “threat” a few different times, reporters pressed Inslee if he would sign some bills and not others.

“How many times do I have to say, ‘your bills are going to get vetoed if you don’t do your job and pass a budget?'” he said. “I hope that is clear enough.”

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