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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee Vetoes Bills After Lawmakers Fail To Reach Budget Deal

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee addresses reporters after vetoing 27 bills after lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal before the end of the regular 60-day legislative session.

Washington lawmakers adjourned their 60-day session Thursday night after failing to reach agreement on an update to the state’s two-year budget. In response, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee followed through on a threat to veto several bills. He also immediately called a special session of the legislature to finish its work.

In a late night news conference Inslee announced that he had vetoed 27 legislative bills as a penalty for lawmakers not getting a budget deal.

“I recognize that this is perhaps the largest batch of vetoes in state history," Inslee said. "None of these vetoed bills were as important as the fundamental responsibility of the legislature to produce a balanced budget.”

Among the vetoed bills, a measure to help disabled college and university students overcome obstacles to their education. Inslee, a Democrat, did sign into law 10 other measures that he said dealt with public health or public safety, including tougher penalties for vehicular homicide.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, a Republican, criticized the governor’s vetoes.

“That’s not leading," Schoesler said. "That is something completely different.”

Lawmakers now have 30 more days on the clock to try to hammer out a budget deal.

What did and didn’t pass during the 60-day session?

  • Lawmakers passed and the governor signed a commitment to end the reliance on local school levies to fund schools by next year. The question is whether that will satisfy the Washington Supreme Court. The court is currently sanctioning the state $100,000 a day for not having a plan to fully fund schools by 2018.
  • The legislature passed a bill to revive voter-approved charters schools after the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional. Funding for the schools will come from lottery proceeds instead of the general fund, but critics still question whether that’s constitutional.
  • Measures to create task forces to examine police deadly force and police body cameras also passed. The ACLU criticized the body camera legislation as lacking “adequate safeguards.”
  • An effort by Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson to raise the smoking age to 21 did not make it out of the legislature. Nor did a measure to regulate the vaping or e-cigarette industry.
  • A Republican-led effort to repeal a new state rule allowing transgender people to access the bathroom or locker room of their choosing also failed.
Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."