OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee all but conceded the Legislature will need a special session to finish work on budgets and key issues like education.
“I think we’d have to draw to an inside straight to get this done by Sunday night,” Inslee said at a morning news conference called to discuss the current session, which is in the 101st day of a 105-day session.
Legislators should continue to “do everything humanly possible” through Sunday and try to finish as much work as possible, the governor said. But the list of tasks is long, and includes agreements on the state’s general operating budget, its basic transportation budget and a possible tax increase for new road projects and more maintenance, a capital projects budget and at least a start on major improvements to the state’s public schools to meet a state Supreme Court mandate.
“This is not just a budgetary exercise, there are policy issues also,” he said. He has several items on his list of policies, including the Reproductive Parity Act, the Washington Dream Act, and legislation on gun violence that would include universal background checks for gun sales.
None of those three are in a position where they could pass by Sunday without some extraordinary parliamentary maneuver.
He’d also like more support for education programs that boost science, technology, engineering and math, additional support for early learning and giving schools a letter grade evaluation.
But he seemed to acknowledge that not everything on his wish list, or any legislator’s list will be accomplished, even with a special session: “We’re not going to be able to solve all of Washington’s problems this session.”
By law, the regular session in an odd-numbered year – which is the year after a state general election – is 105 days long. If the governor calls a special session, it can go for up to 30 days. Legislators can end it sooner if they accomplish everything they believe they need to accomplish.
Inslee said he’d talk to legislative leaders about the topics for a special session, but wouldn’t try to limit issues they might discuss. “I can’t eliminate people’s ideas from the mix.”