EDITORIAL | It’s time for lawmakers to do their jobs and pass a capital budget

  • Wednesday, September 13, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

It’s been nearly two months since the state Legislature retired from its third special session of the year, and Washingtonians still don’t have an adopted 2018-2019 capital budget.

While some readers may not realize it, that’s a big deal. The capital budget is the funding engine for construction projects around the state, paying for everything from improvements at school facilities to stuff like helping South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District develop its new campground and the Freeland Water and Sewer District build sewers in the downtown core. It also pays for other things, like jobs at our state parks and funding for facilities dedicated to mental health and drug addiction — things many Whidbey Island residents would argue are fairly important.

So what’s the hold up? Despite being one of the easier tasks lawmakers are required to accomplish during the state’s two-year budget cycle — it’s usually OK’d without incident — it’s the victim to a political standoff over water rights. It’s a complicated issue, but boiled down a court ruling known as the Hirst Decision puts the regulation of water resources in the hands of individual counties rather than with the state Department of Ecology. Some worry that it will lead to water shortages and other problems because of competing interests. The issue is seen as so important that Senate Republicans refused to approve the Democrat-controlled House’s approved capital budget until a permanent fix was in place.

In her July newsletter to constituents, Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, blamed Democrats for being unwilling to negotiate. Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, says it’s a rural versus urban debate, not a Republican versus Democrat standoff.


The truth is, it’s a failure on behalf of the entire Legislature to perform one of its basic and primary functions — adopting a budget. Lawmakers are supposed to represent their constituents, but a basic part of democracy is a willingness to compromise and realize you can’t get everything you want. The state’s and Congress’s increasing willingness to simply cross their arms and pout, effectively bringing government to a halt because one side or the other didn’t get what they want, is getting rather tiresome.

The Hirst Decision is an important issue. And it deserves much discussion, which it has. It’s now time state lawmakers grow up and act like adults. Bend. Compromise. Do your jobs. It’s what you were elected to do, and what your constituents deserve.

More in Opinion

More residents should consider running for office

It’s time for those who’ve entertained the idea of running for elected… Continue reading

Join in celebrating Earth Day April 22

Island County enjoys the valuable assets of our beaches and lagoons where… Continue reading

‘Ignorance’ on opioid lawsuit ‘disappointing’

Editor, I was surprised and disappointed at the ignorance shown by county… Continue reading

Need to elect Democrats to U.S. House, Senate

Editor, For graying baby boomers like me, Nov. 6 this a second… Continue reading

Support Sno-Isle library system levy increase

Editor, Our libraries are not free. Your Sno-Isle Library card is free,… Continue reading

We should be thankful Navy is cleaning water

Editor, I understand the concern regarding water quality (Rick Abraham letter, April… Continue reading

Armed protesters didn’t break any laws

Editor, I would like to take the opportunity to respond to the… Continue reading

Libraries are heart of community, deserve support

Editor, People on Whidbey Island know how valuable our libraries are to… Continue reading

It’s not about facts, but how to change

Editor, I have read with interest the debate between Dean Enell and… Continue reading