The state Office of Financial Management has begun brainstorming what would be involved in a partial government shutdown if the Legislature cannot come up with an operating budget by June 30.
If a budget is not in place by July 1, the state would have to shut down all but the most essential services.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said he doubted that the Legislature will flirt with the June 30 deadline to avoid a shutdown, but added that it is a good practice to get a handle on the implications and impending decisions this early. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, downplayed the likelihood of the Legislature going into overtime beyond April 28. "It's too early to start fear-mongering," he said.
Two years ago, the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-dominated House failed to agree on a biennial budget until June 27, 2013, three days prior to a looming partial shutdown. The 2015 legislative session is supposed to end on April 28, but very few in Olympia expect a budget agreement to be reached by then. The 2013-2015 budget expires on June 30.
The House and Senate budget proposals for the next two years are expected to be unveiled in late March and early April – and they could be up to $2 billion apart. They are likely to have radically different approaches to taxes, dealing with a 2012 Washington Supreme Court ruling to improve teacher-student ratios in grades K-3, and whether to fund negotiated raises for state employees.