Nealey calls need for special session ‘inexcusable,’ says Legislature had time to finish its work
Rep. Terry Nealey expressed frustration today at the need for a special session, saying the Legislature had more than enough time to finish its work, pass its budget bills, and adjourn within the allotted 105-day schedule.
“It's absolutely inexcusable the majority party dragged its feet until the last possible moment on advancing an operating budget and then, gave up, saying a special session is 'inevitable.' Even before the regular session began January 10, lawmakers and the governor knew the challenge would be closing a $5 billion budget shortfall. The problem and the need to make the difficult decisions to address the budget crisis have been obvious for months. Instead of hesitating, we should have acted on the budget and closed this session on time,” said Nealey, R-Dayton. “When you wait until the last three weeks to write the biggest bill of the session, you're asking for trouble. I'm very frustrated that the lack of leadership on the part of the Democratic majority and their inability to say 'no' to special interest groups are pushing the Legislature into an unnecessary special session.”
So far, the Legislature has approved a transportation budget to be sent to the governor. However, an agreement has yet to be reached on both the operating and capital construction budgets.
Nealey said an amendment to reduce the state's debt limit from 9 percent of state revenue to 7 percent is holding up the vote on the capital budget.
“The cost of that debt has grown 61 percent over the last 10 years to $1.8 billion. Lowering the debt limit is important, considering the economic times we are in. Yet there are still some folks in the Legislature who want to spend beyond what the state can afford, so they are obstructing the vote,” noted Nealey.
The 16th District lawmaker also said he's disappointed legislation that would create private sector jobs – a key component of the House Republican agenda – was largely blocked by top Democratic leaders.
“One of the largest pieces of this puzzle is workers' compensation reform, which is desperately needed by small businesses across the state,” said Nealey. “We have the votes and bipartisan support for a workers' comp bill that would significantly reduce employer costs while providing the care injured workers need. However, it's being held up by the House speaker and pushed into overtime – even though we could move forward immediately on this important legislation.”
For every day lawmakers are at the Capitol, it costs as much as $16,000. Nealey said that's an extra expense that would not have been necessary had lawmakers finished their business during the regular session.
“This will make the third consecutive special session. And each time, taxpayers have been stuck with the bill. Leaders in the Legislature need to set aside their egos, resolve their differences, and move forward on a budget,” said Nealey.
“My House Republican colleagues and I have a 'go-home' budget proposal waiting in the wings that is ready to go. It spends less than the Democrats' proposal, saves more for difficult economic times, prioritizes spending for education, public safety and the state's most vulnerable citizens,” added Nealey. “If the Democrat leaders cannot resolve their own differences, maybe they should step aside and let us lead the way out with our budget proposal. It's a responsible, accountable spending plan, and reflects the economic realities facing our families, taxpayers and employers across the state. We're ready to take action now without a costly, extended special session.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications