Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday called lawmakers back for a third special session, saying that “the clock is running out” before the state faces a partial government shutdown.
The new overtime session started moments after lawmakers adjourned their second 30-day special session.
The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-led Senate have been struggling to reach agreement on a new two-year state operating budget before the current budget runs out at midnight June 30. If a new budget isn’t signed by that time, a partial shutdown starts July 1.
While Washington has never had a partial government shutdown, the Legislature has taken its budget talks to the brink before, including in 2013 and 2015, with budgets not signed by the governor until June 30 both years.
An added challenge for the Legislature this year is having to write a spending plan that satisfies a state Supreme Court mandate on education funding. The state has been in contempt of court since 2014 for lack of progress on satisfying a 2012 high court ruling that found that school funding was not adequate.
Contingency plans for a potential shutdown have been ongoing for weeks, and notices go out Thursday to about 32,000 state workers warning them they will be temporarily laid off if a budget is not in place by the deadline.
A partial shutdown would affect everything from community supervision of offenders on probation, to meal services to the elderly, to reservations made at state parks. (AP)