Just nine days after saying he would not give lawmakers additional time to agree on a budget, Gov. Jay Inslee this afternoon called the state Legislature into its third special session, as Republicans and Democrats struggle for consensus.

“The differences in spending and revenue are small enough that I see no reason that negotiations will have to go beyond next week,” the governor told reporters in his office. Nevertheless, “I am a lot more concerned today than I was a few days ago,” he added.

Obviously, today’s expiration of Special Session II was not a “hard” enough deadline to bring alignment between two quite different plans to pay for State of Washington operations over the next two years, including a mandate to fully fund public K-12 schools across the state.

Using his best “bully pulpit” posture, Inslee insists that, starting tomorrow, he will require budget negotiators from both parties to “continuously, physically meet in the same room until they reach a budget.” 

He will also use a conference call with all members of the state Senate and House of Representatives tomorrow morning to be sure they understand the consequences of a possible shut-down. 

The governor said it is understandable that people are becoming increasingly concerned about a July 1st closure of state agencies and functions. He does not, however, agree with one possible solution being floated, that lawmakers could simply pass a 30-day extension of the current budget.

“A government shut-down and a 30-day extension are both equally reckless,” Inslee told reporters, indicating that he doesn’t want to accept either of those. “This is a legislative responsibility – to produce a budget (and) they need to do it.

“The clock is running out … there are only nine days remaining in the fiscal year.”