Extra inning for session needed, but shouldn’t be

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The Washington State Legislature’s 30-day special session kicked off Monday in Olympia after convening the 105-day regular session Sunday. Some of the major issues include the unapproved state operating and capital budgets, and public education funding in response to the McCleary decision.

The Legislature hasn’t finished the regular session on time for the past several years. The two major political parties have different philosophies, so coming to agreement takes time, negotiation, and renegotiation. We just wish it didn’t have to be this way. Some of the lawmakers we’ve interviewed share the same sentiment. But at this point, more work and collaboration are needed.

Leadership and budget writers on both sides of the aisle typically remain in the capital to work out the final details of the budget. Other lawmakers go home to their districts and return to Olympia when there’s a budget ready to vote on. Locally, Big Bend Community College is awaiting news about funding in the capital budget for the school’s proposed Professional Technical Education Center. The $35 million project has huge short-term benefits and long-term workforce development implications for our area. Big Bend officials are also waiting to learn the fate of community and technical colleges. The state’s operating budget addresses funding for colleges in the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges System.

The state’s proposed capital budgets also included hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds for water and road improvements for the George Industrial Park, according to an April 11 Columbia Basin Herald article. The House budget showed $400,000 for road improvements and $412,000 for a water line. The Senate budget set aside $700,000 for the water budget.

The industrial park’s project is important to the economic future of George, population 501. George Mayor Gerene Nelson told the Herald she hopes the improvements will attract industry and opportunity for George’s residents.

We hope so too.

The special session is an opportunity for lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee to begin investing in our human capital to move our state toward a preferred future. We hope the process isn’t delayed further because of partisan politics.

— Editorial Board

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