After weeks of gridlock, the Washington state House and Senate have reached an agreement on an update to the state’s two-year budget. The deal announced late Monday ends weeks of gridlock that resulted in a 30-day special session.
A joint announcement from the House and Senate says the budget update will increase funding for mental health and homelessness and start to address the state’s teacher shortage — top priorities of House Democrats. The budget will also still balance over four years, something Senate Republicans insisted upon.
This agreement comes about halfway into a 30-day special session that the governor called because there was no agreement at the end of the regular 60-day session. Lawmakers say their plan now is to quickly vote on the deal even though that means little time for anyone to scrutinize it.
Legislative staff say details on what’s in the budget won’t be available until Tuesday morning. The Legislature could adjourn as early as Tuesday night.
In anticipation of the deal, the Washington Senate began resurrecting dozens of bills Gov. Jay Inslee previously vetoed as punishment for not having a budget.
Earlier this month when lawmakers were hung up on a budget deal, Inslee warned, “Your bills are gonna get vetoed if you don’t do your job and pass a budget.”
A few days later, he followed through on his threat and vetoed 27 Senate bills.
“I recognize that this is perhaps the largest batch of vetoes in state history,” the governor said on March 10.
Now comes perhaps the largest batch of veto overrides in state history.
The first bill up was a measure to allow the growing of industrial hemp in Washington. The vote was unanimous to override. And so it went as the Senate voted over and over again to resurrect vetoed bills. They now go to the Washington House where it also takes a two-thirds vote to override.
The last time the Washington legislature voted to override a governor’s veto was 1998. That was the Defense of Marriage Act prohibiting same-sex marriage.