After the State Legislature could not reach agreement on the state's 2015-17 Operating Budget by the April 26 end of the regular session, Governor Inslee called a 30-day Special Session that started April 29.

Bill Clarke

Since then, legislative efforts in Olympia have been primarily limited to budget committee and legislative leadership exchanging concepts on the Operating Budget.  While the proposed House and Senate budgets fund basic education at approximately the same levels to meet the Supreme Court's McCleary decision mandate, the House budget relies on a tax increase of approximately $1.5 billion while the Senate budget works within existing revenues.  

The Legislature also continues work on property tax and local school levy reforms that would reallocate the funding burden from local district levies to the state.  This week, certain legislative committees return to Olympia for hearings on new bills, including the House Capital Gains income tax proposal, and a new Carbon Emission cap & trade proposal produced at the Governor Inslee's urging.  A statewide transportation package is still on the special session agenda with strong support in both chambers.   

The House and Senate will likely convene with full numbers in Olympia by May 20th to see if a final budget agreement can be reached.  If the a second special session is needed, the Legislature risks conflict with the U.S. Open starting at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on June 11.  Hotels rooms needed by legislators and lobbyists are booked, and the Legislative Ethics Board ruled that legislators may accept U.S. Open tickets under an exception to state gift limits if certain conditions are met.  FORE!

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