Washington State lawmakers reached a budget agreement Thursday, averting a government shutdown that would have gone into effect on Monday.
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said Legislative leaders will move as quickly as possible to pass the budget and get it to him for his signature, which he expects to be done by 5 p.m. Friday.
“We will be notifying state employees to report to work Monday, July 1,” Gov. Inslee said in a statement.
Furlough notices were sent out to thousands of state employees earlier this week in case a budget was not reached by the 11:59 p.m. Sunday deadline.
The government shutdown would have caused 34 state agencies or offices to close completely and 24 to partially close starting July 1.
Washington State has never had a government shutdown before. The House, controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, controlled by a bi-partisan coalition, had been locked in budget negotiations for several weeks and were in the second special legislative session of the year when the agreement was reached.
Lawmakers said the budget agreement includes investing an additional $1 billion in K-12 education, no tuition increases for college and universities, and extending health-insurance coverage to 300,000 residents now without it under the Affordable Care Act.
It also does not extend business and occupational taxes, addresses two unresolved court issues involving estate taxes and telecommunications—which raise money or prevent refunds from going out—and dedicates extra revenue from the recent forecast into the state’s reserve account.
“This is a good budget,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan. “However, it doesn’t address the underlying questions we need to answer before we can honestly say we’ve met our long-term commitment to education in our state.”
Also on Thursday, the House voted to pass two bills as part of a transportation revenue package, which would fund $10.3 billion in transportation projects and programs, including over $1 billion in maintenance and preservation, as well as funding for infrastructure projects like the SR 17/509 Puget Sound Gateway and the Columbia River Crossing.
One of the bills passed would increase the current gas tax by 10.5 cents over the next 13 months. Washington currently collects 37.5 cents-per-gallon.
The bills are now headed to the Senate for consideration.