Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met with caucus leaders today hoping to kickstart budget negotiations and avoid the brink of a partial government shutdown.
Such a shutdown, starting on July 1, could happen if a two-year state operating budget isn’t signed into law by June 30. Inslee said that leaders of each of the four legislative caucuses have agreed to meet face-to-face to start negotiations on the budget starting Tuesday.
“I appreciate the complexity of this challenge,” said the Governor at a press conference. “If there was an easy way to do this, indeed it would have been done already.”
Still, while describing the pace of the budget talks as “glacial,” Inslee also ruled out a 30-day stopgap budget.
“They need to get their job done,” he said.
Also notable is that, if a budget deal isn’t done by next week, some 26,000 state employees will receive temporary layoffs.
“The current status and pace of negotiations is highly unlikely to result in the passage of a sufficient operating budget before the session ends nine days from now unless there are meaningful changes in the pace of these negotiations,” Inslee said.
“Here we are once again going through the totally unnecessary step of preparing for a government shutdown in a matter of weeks.
“So because of this delay, I have a job to do and it involves notifying state employees, vendors, the clients and customers we serve, which means the citizens of the state, that on July 1, state offices and services may not be available.
“I still believe it will not come to that and budget leaders assure me they intend to reach an agreement by then.”