OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday threatened to veto lawmakers’ bills unless they get a supplemental budget to him by Thursday, the final day of the 60-day legislative session.
At a news conference Monday, Inslee said that while negotiations between the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate are continuing, lawmakers “need to pick up that pace substantially.”
“I wish they were further along than they are right now,” he said.
Inslee said that so far more than 30 bills have passed the Legislature and are awaiting his signature, and that many more are expected to make their way to his desk.
At first Inslee just said he wouldn’t sign the bills, but then clarified that his message to lawmakers is much stronger: “Your bills are going to get vetoed if you don’t do your job and pass a budget.”
“I hope that is clear enough,” he said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler seemed to question whether Inslee would follow through with his threat.
“I hope they’re not any he cares about,” he said. “Would he veto bills he likes?”
Bills that are delivered to Inslee more than five days before the Legislature adjourns have five days to be acted on; bills delivered fewer than five days before adjournment have 20 days to be acted on. If the governor takes no action, the bills automatically become law. But Inslee said the veto threat is needed to prod action.
“This should be unnecessary to talk in these terms,” he said. “There’s just no excuse not producing a budget by Thursday.”
Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that the governor’s threat is “his prerogative.”
“As long as we as legislators focus on getting the budget done, that point becomes moot,” he said. “There’s no reason for us to not get that work done.”