EDITORIAL | Could we come up with a budget, please?

July 1 is shaping up to be an inauspicious day in the state of Washington.

If the legislature fails to pass a budget by the end of June, at least 25,000 state employees will be temporarily laid off, and just about every state agency would be affected in one way or another by a partial government shutdown for the first time in state history.

The consequences of such a shutdown, however brief it may be, would be wide-ranging.

All state parks would be shuttered, in addition to wildlife and boating access sites while numerous programs that aid children, families, the unemployed, the elderly, and those with a disability would grind to a halt. State prisons would continue to operate (thank goodness) but wouldn’t accept any new inmates from the counties. The Departments of Health, and Social and Health Services would both still function, but at far under ideal staffing numbers. Community and technical colleges? They’ll stay open too — so long as they have a way to pay for it (tuition, local funds, etc.). Again, not ideal. 

So, how did we get here?

This all stems from the legislature’s inability to this point to fully fund education, and come into compliance with the McCleary decision from the state Supreme Court. That’s been the hang-up in completing the two-year operating budget.

If it seems like the state has been grappling with this issue for quite some time, you’d be right.

When the McCleary family originally brought the case, their two children were seven and 13-years old, respectively. Now, the former has graduated high school, and the latter from college.

It’s been that long. Time flies, doesn’t it?

We’re well past the time to figure this out once and for all, and there’s no need for gamesmanship on the part of legislators as the effects of continually kicking the McCleary can down the road span ever wider.

Neither party is going to get everything they want out of the final budget, as has always been the case and always will be. That’s the nature of negotiating. But to get even some of what you want, there has to be an actual final budget that’s enacted.

It seems simple enough.

Get down to business for the sake of our state, and the education of our children. There’s no point in putting the squeeze on tens of thousands of state workers to delay what is inevitable. Compliance with McCleary needs to happen. And it needs to happen before July 1.