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Legislative ‘massacre’ caused by financial, philosophical differences

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talks to reporters, late Thursday, March 10 at the Capitol in Olympia. Lawmakers adjourned their 60-day legislative session Thursday night without passing a supplemental budget, and Inslee immediately called them back for a special session to complete their work and followed through on a threat to veto bills. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

An accusation by a Republican senator left many wondering who is to blame for the Washington state Legislature’s failure to come up with a budget.

Senator Doug Erickson (R-Ferndale) told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz that the Democrats are working to “cue up” a $4-billion tax increase for the next legislative session and create a budget shortfall in order to leave no choice but to create an income tax.

On the other hand, Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) said “we believe this needs to be a minimalist budget” He said it is a supplemental budget year and that it is not the time to cut from basic services and mental health programs.

Related: Inslee goes on a veto spree, keeps good on his threat

Daily Herald reporter Jerry Cornfield says he doesn’t believe the Republican’s accusations that the Democrats are deliberately working towards an income tax.

“I don’t think so,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “I think that’s some of the politicking going on.”

Though there will be some taxes raised in 2017, other taxes may go down, Cornfield explained. In the end, it’s all about trying to fully fund education, he said.

So what’s the main disagreement that led to Gov. Jay Inslee calling a 30-day special session? Other than financial disagreements over how much more education has really been funded, Cornfield says philosophically the Senate and House are on opposite ends of how much of the state’s reserves should be used to pay for programs.

Their differences led Inslee to put his foot down and veto 27 bills in what Cornfield called a legislative “massacre.” He signed 10 bills based on their importance for public safety and health.

Though one might assume that the bills Inslee vetoed weren’t important, Cornfield says it takes effort to get a bill this far.

“I don’t think the state will be any worse off…,” Cornfield said. “On the flip side, all can come back.”

Senate Republicans release budget offer

Senate Republicans have released their latest supplemental budget proposal as lawmakers start their first full day of an overtime legislative session.

The budget plan was released Friday, hours before a Senate fiscal committee was set to meet. It’s not a deal with the majority House Democrats, but instead a latest offer from majority Republicans in the Senate.

The new proposal adds about $178 million to the overall spending level of the two-year, $38 billion operating budget adopted last year. That’s an increase from the $34 million that was added under the proposal passed by the Senate earlier this year.

Lawmakers adjourned their regular 60-day session Thursday night and were immediately called back into special session by Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee vetoed 27 bills Thursday night because of the lack of a budget deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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