OLYMPIA -- Progress in budget negotiations over the weekend mean legislators are being briefed Monday afternoon and Gov. Jay Inslee is rescinding for now his threat to veto more bills.
In a press release shortly after noon Monday, Inslee said he was told earlier in the day that negotiators "made great progress over the weekend" and lawmakers would get the 411 in caucus briefing.
"This information gives me the confidence I need to begin signing bills and clears the way for legislators to reconsider the bills I vetoed as a result of the lack of a budget agreement before the end of the regular session," Inslee said in the prepared statement.
For those who don't keep close track at home, during the last week of the regular session Inslee threatened to veto bills if the Legislature didn't come up with a supplemental operating budget by the time the session ended. When the didn't, he had on his desk 37 bills that had to be vetoed or they would become law without his signature the final day of the regular session. The night that session ended and the special session began, he signed 10, saying they were important for the public health and safety, and vetoed 27. Some of the vetoed bills had passed with unanimous or near unanimous votes.
As a strategy to goose the Legislature into agreeing to a supplemental budget, that strategy was, at best, minimally effective. He said lawmakers should be able to reach an agreement in a few days, they've gone nearly three weeks. Last week, he signed the transportation budget and nearly two dozen other pieces of legislation tied to that budget, even though some of them, such as specialty license plates for wrestling, steelhead fishing and farming might be stretching his earlier standard of being important to the public health and safety.
On Monday he said when lawmakers return they could begin the process of overriding his vetoes because, as he said when dropping the axe on them, "I have no objection to seeing these bills become law once a budget agreement is reached."