Jay Inslee is back on the road this week with his “Ain’t Got No Capital Budget Blues” Tour.
The Democratic governor launched the tour in July and has performed in numerous counties including King, Pierce, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Yakima and Skagit. He’s opening the tour with an uplifting tune about the historic achievements of the 2017 legislative session: increased funding for schools, expanded mental health support services and a new paid family leave law.
Then he’ll follow with an extended ballad on the day the capital budget died. It’s a tale of how the failure of lawmakers to approve a new two-year, $4.2 billion capital construction budget has meant no new money to carry out projects in every corner of the state.
Lawmakers settled on the budget’s content, but the Republican-led Senate refused to vote on the bill absent agreement on a response to the Hirst decision from the state Supreme Court. The ruling aimed to protect water rights for people and fish but also left thousands of rural property owners wondering if they’ll be able to build a home and drill a well. Inslee is using the tour to update community leaders on the situation and pressure members of the Senate majority to de-link the two issues.
On Thursday, he travelled to the heart of a Republican legislative district, the 39th, and, coincidentally, a school attended by children of the area’s state senator, Kirk Pearson. If Inslee does as he did in Skagit County in late July, he’ll call out Pearson as one of the GOP senators he hopes changes their mind.
Pearson, who didn’t get invited to Thursday’s event, said the governor’s strategy won’t weaken his resolve.
“To try and play the ‘Shame on Kirk Pearson’ game is bad form. I’ve been in the Legislature 17 years and never had to go through this,” he said. “I have no doubt we’ll have a capital budget eventually but the Supreme Court put us in this spot.”
Inslee has not held any public event aimed at encouraging a resolution of the Hirst situation. Maybe he should, Pearson suggested. He might gain a better understanding of concerns created by the court’s decision on residents in Pearson’s district and other rural areas.
“This is not easy. Maybe a few thousand people in rural areas do not matter to him because they may not vote for him,” the senator said. “But there are people out there hurting and I am trying to help them.”
Sounds like this situation has everyone singing the blues.
Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623;firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @dospueblos.