Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, issued the following statements today regarding the status of budget talks with Senate Republicans on this final day of the first special session:
"Our constitutional obligation as lawmakers is to pass a budget. We haven't done that, and that's why we're in special session. The Legislature's focus should be on the budget, the budget, and only the budget.
“If the public wants to know why we are still in session in June without a budget, it’s because Republicans are focused on other items: five ideological policy bills they call “reforms.” If the public wants to know why we are edging closer to the fiscal cliff, these bills are your answer.
“These so-called reforms – none of which are necessary to the budget -- include a bill to give the MoneyTree company new tools to prey on low-income families, a bill to punish our teachers by eliminating their due process, a bill to help employers get injured employees off their books, a bill to hamper our local governments’ ability to properly manage and dispose of hazardous substances, and a bill to pull long-term funding away from critical services for low-income seniors, individuals with disabilities and low-income families with children. And they’d like to give a tax break to the wealthiest families among us for good measure.
“Does the public believe our work isn’t done unless and until we pass these bills? Not likely. And yet, as the Republican budget lead admitted on the floor of the Senate, they’re being used to hold the budget process hostage – even as we approach a government shutdown scenario on July 1, the consequences of which would be unprecedented and disastrous. Leveraging the threat of going over the fiscal cliff to pass an ideological policy agenda is irresponsible; it’s the destructive style of Congressional Republicans in D.C. and it has no place in our Legislature.
“Any policy bills that lack agreement can be worked over interim and taken up again next session – as is always the case. Democrats have policy priorities that did not pass in the regular session either: universal background checks to protect our communities from gun violence, the Reproductive Parity Act to protect a woman’s right to choose, the Dream Act to provide the children of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to attend college, and a ban on unnecessary toxic flame retardants in everyday children’s products. But the Legislature must pass a budget, and Democrats have narrowed our focus to this constitutional obligation.
“Republicans need to focus as well, and they need to compromise. Governor Inslee has urged compromise on the budget. The House has compromised on 71 items in the budget, and has moved ten times the distance that Senate Republicans have moved. Republicans have repeated time and again that their position hasn’t changed since April. This is unacceptable. Today is the final day of the special session. We need movement now so that we may complete our work over the next several days.”