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WashingtonVotes NEWS: Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
Governor calls Legislature back for second overtime session. State capital gains tax proposal likely dropped.

The Washington State Legislature adjourned its 30-day first special session on Tuesday before mostly empty chambers, but Governor Inslee immediately called lawmakers back for a second special session beginning the same day.

Legislators now have another 30 days to reach agreement on a two-year state spending plan, including education funding. The state operating budget for 2017-19 must be enacted by July 1st to avoid a government shutdown. Governor Inslee, in a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, said a shutdown or temporary budget to keep state agencies running are not acceptable. Legislative leaders have expressed optimism that the legislature will get the budget passed and that such measures won’t be needed.

Lawmakers mostly stayed in their home districts during the first special session, while a group of eight legislators, four from each party, met behind closed doors to work out a compromise on education funding. ?Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), one of the main negotiators on school funding, said in an interview with the Vancouver Columbian that she is optimistic the legislature won’t need the entire 30 days to reach an agreement. “In terms of the education piece, we’re very close, “ Sen. Rivers said. “ I’m not even a little worried about a shutdown.”

In his news conference on Tuesday, Governor Inslee showed some signs of compromise with Senate Republicans. According to The Seattle Times, Inslee effectively took a proposed tax on capital gains—favored by himself and House Democrats—out of consideration. The proposed capital gains tax is a key element of the House Democratic education funding plan, but the House did not vote on it in the 105-day Regular Session, nor the 30-day First Special Session. Republicans pointed to the fact that the proposal, which would tax income from capital gains, would violate the state constitutional prohibition against imposing an income tax.

Neither the Republican property-tax plan nor a capital gains tax “will have the support necessary to pass in both chambers as-is,” Inslee said, but he added that he would be open to a “state property tax adjustment” as part of a final deal.

No floor votes are scheduled, and both chambers are adjourned until Friday. It is likely the legislature will adjourn each day after a brief “pro forma” floor session to conduct routine business, until lawmakers are closer to an agreement on the education and operating budget issues.

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