Although the Legislature has officially adjourned for the year, it didn’t get its work — no, make that our work — done.
Lawmakers can’t let the unfinished business linger until January when they are scheduled to return to Olympia for a 60-day regular session.
The Legislature failed to approve the two-year capital budget, which essentially means it puts in limbo $4.2 billion in building projects over the next two years — including about $1 billion for school construction.
Beyond that, the lack of authority to spend money on construction projections will increase interest rates for local governments — including Walla Walla’s — which will, of course, be picked up by taxpayers.
And it could be devastating for some state employees as layoffs are now looming.
The Olympian newspaper reports hundreds of state workers are paid for by Washington’s construction budget, including many who do maintenance work for colleges, universities and parks.
The University of Washington, which has 125 such employees at its three campuses, is exploring ways to keep its workers on the job as long as possible in the hope lawmakers will reach a budget deal.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon.
Legislative leaders are still negotiating to resolve the political impasse at the heart of the capital budget failure.
Senate Republicans have blocked passage of the capital budget until the Legislature agrees to a compromise on a fix for the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which essentially put the onus on local governments and property owners to determine if enough groundwater is physically and legally available before officials issue building permits in rural areas.
The ramifications of not addressing the water issue, forcing a state responsibility to the local level, are serious in the rural, smaller counties of the state.
The fallout from the lack of a capital budget is a statewide problem — and getting worse as the days pass.
No, it’s not something that will be felt everyday by every Washingtonian, but for those who will be out of work, for example, it will be devastating.
Democrats might be tempted to drag this out until after the November election to fill a vacated Senate seat in Western Washington that could give control of the upper house to Democrats, but that would be petty and shortsighted.
It’s time to act now to do what’s right for Washington state: Pass the capital budget and fix the flaws with the water ruling.