Who gets blame for another special session? | COMMENTARY

“Conflict is an inevitable byproduct. Just like special session.”

Another special session is upon us.

Truthfully, it’s been going on for awhile among those in the fraternity of lawmakers, lobbyists and legislative staff toiling in the state Capitol. They’re all used to not finishing on time — which this year meant by April 23 — and a few don’t know any other way.

The special session started April 24, just a day after the regular session ended.

Who or what is to blame this year? There are plenty of perspectives.

It’s the House Democrats’ fault: They are the majority. They passed a $44.9 billion two-year budget. It relies on $3 billion more in taxes. House leaders refuse to vote on their package of new capital gains and carbon taxes, and higher business taxes. They say the votes are there but it’s a waste of time to cast them since the package is D.O.A. in the Senate. Republicans say pass the tax bill then we’ll negotiate.

It’s the Senate Republicans’ fault: They are in control. They’ve steadfastly refused to seriously negotiate until House Democrats vote on their tax bill. They know it has no chance of success in the Senate yet are determined to stand their ground. They say they took the hard vote when they approved a new statewide property tax in their $43.3 billion budget. They insist House Democrats take the hard vote, too. That’s not expected to happen.

It’s the Supreme Court’s fault: Justices are demanding the Legislature fix an unconstitutional public school funding system and pay the full cost of a basic education of its students. They’ve set a deadline and are imposing a $100,000-a-day fine to keep up the pressure on lawmakers. Any solution is expensive, complicated and taking longer than anyone expected. Meanwhile, the high court’s decision in the Hirst case rewrote the rules on water and property rights. It’s driven a wedge between urban and rural lawmakers on how best to respond, if at all.

It’s the feds’ fault: Federal officials are monitoring safety and security improvements at Western State Hospital, the state’s largest psychiatric hospital. Millions of dollars in federal funding will be lost if those officials aren’t satisfied. Complying with all their demands is not cheap or easy. Lawmakers are debating the pace and path needed to prevent losing the money.

It’s the economy’s fault: Washington’s economy is one of the hottest of any state in the nation — even with layoffs at the Boeing Co. It’s producing a lot of money from existing sources of taxes. This is a political problem. It’s hard to argue for new and higher taxes when the budget reserves are bulging with a couple billion dollars. It’s hard for any lawmaker in either party to say no when the state is sitting on all this dough. It’s so much easier to say “Sorry, we can’t” in a recession — though everyone agrees they don’t want to see one of those for awhile.

It’s the governor’s fault: Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t to blame for the impasse between the House and Senate. Nor is he responsible for ending it. He is the state’s chief executive. He does share responsibility for ensuring compliance with those court dictates and federal demands. That means he’s no innocent bystander.

It’s Sound Transit’s fault: Isn’t everything Sound Transit’s fault?

It’s kind of our fault: Nearly every one of the 147 men and women serving in the Legislature are there by the choice of voters. None ran on a platform of compromise, concession and voting on whatever gets the Legislature out on time. Rather, some pledged to make wealthy individuals and big businesses shoulder a greater burden of those education and social service costs while others vowed to provide those same guys with greater tax relief.

Some lawmakers campaigned on expanding the social safety net and broadening environmental protections while others promised to pursue reforms ensuring the neediest are served and any new rules aren’t too restrictive on the private sector. ‘

More in Opinion

Letters to the editor for the week of Nov. 15

Reader’s child enjoys stories about community Dear editor, I just read “It’s… Continue reading

Container math: Divide your roots to multiply your plants

By the month of November gardeners and gardening goals have moved indoors.… Continue reading

George Will and ‘conservative sensibilities’

The journalist is a Constitutional Originalist, but the framers’ sole focus wasn’t solely freedom.

No cost to vote, but million spent to influence it

Check out the numbers behind the November 2019 general election.

Limp competitive (boring?) election season in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Nine of the most powerful political jobs in Washington state… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Oct. 18

Reader credits Pavone for giving them a voice Dear editor, What do… Continue reading

Reject dishonest vehicle taxes, vote yes on I-976

Taxpayers are getting ripped off, everybody knows it and politicians refuse to… Continue reading

Mum’s the word: incorporate this plant into your season displays

If your landscape is not a blaze of autumn glory this week,… Continue reading

Lawmakers to governor: How dare you mess with our budget!

They want Jay Inslee to halt his planned $175 million reallocation of state transportation dollars.

Letters to the editor

Renton Councilmember, Mayor Law support Armondo Pavone Dear editor, For over 20… Continue reading

Making sense out of the census

2020 Census Renton needs your participation

Letters for the week of Oct. 4

Reader loves our coverage Dear editor, Thanks to you all for keeping… Continue reading