Tribal members gather in the Capitol Building after a bill signing.
OLYMPIA — Legislators unhappy about her refusal to sign many bills should take their concerns up with their leadership, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday.
“I don't take threats from legislators,” Gregoire said, responding to a press release issued late last week from a Republican legislator who accused her of “playing politics” with bills.
Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, said supporters of bills to help the developmentally disabled and bils to crack down on human trafficking should contact Gregoire and urge her to sign them. The governor said she was holding off on signing most bills until legislative leaders break their logjam over the budget.
“They don't deserve to have these bills held hostage just because the governor hasn't gotten her way on the budget,” Delvin said in his press release.
One of the bills Delvin mentioned, which gives people with developmental disabilities help in after they enroll in an employment program, was signed Monday, but another, which involves assessing juvenile offenders for developmental disabilities when they are placed in a county detention center, remains on hold.
Gregoire signed about a dozen bills Monday, including one she proposed to create collaboration between state colleges' education departments and struggling public schools. She also signed a bill that returns control over local courts systems from the state to Native American tribes, which brought more than 100 representatives of various tribes to the Capitol.
After the signing ceremony, many of the tribal members, some in traditional clothing, gathered outside the door of the Senate to sing.
Bills that have large numbers of supporters who must plan trips to Olympia will be scheduled and signed. But “by far and away the vast majority of bills” won't for the time being, Gregoire said: “I am not signing the majority of their bills. No budget, no bills.”
Budget leaders met Monday morning with the director of the Office of Financial Management and Gregoire made individual calls to House and Senate leaders. Both parties will have to give up a key element of the budget strategy, the Democrats their plan to delay the state's payment to schools by a few days to free up $330 million to spend in this biennium, the Republicans their plan to skip a payment to the state pension system to free up $150 million for spending. Both options have become “toxic,” Gregoire said.
If Delvin or other legislators have complaints, they are “free to go tell the leadership,” she said.