Republicans from the House and Senate responded to the Democratic supplemental budget proposal at a press conference Tuesday. They also updated reporters on State Auditor Troy Kelley’s impeachment status, and discussed their additional funding request for the Senate’s investigation into the Department of Corrections.
Republicans criticized the supplemental budget proposal released Monday by House Democrats, saying that the state’s “rainy day” fund should be used for the next economic downturn — not for homelessness.
“I’m of the mind that the rainy day fund has a constitutional mandate for natural disasters, and not for man-made disasters,” Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center said.
It takes a three-fifths vote of the Legislature to use money from the rainy day fund.
“I think we need to be very cautious about how we use the rainy day fund,” Rivers said. “And I think we need to have really honest and candid discussions about what that is for.”
Troy Kelley impeachment
House leaders have decided to not move forward this session with impeachment proceedings against State Auditor Troy Kelley, who is facing federal charges of tax evasion, stealing money and lying under oath. The trial is set to begin in March.
House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen and House Speaker Frank Chopp sent a joint letter to Lt. Gov. Brad Owen last week to inform him that they are placing the impeachment on hold because they do not want to delay the trial.
Kristiansen said Tuesday there is concern that an impeachment might lead to the federal case being postponed. He said after several days of discussion and talking with multiple attorneys, House leaders decided it was “too risky.”
“We still feel like Troy Kelly should leave office,” he said. “We feel very strongly about that. All four corners of the legislature made that quite evident in our asking of him twice now.”
DOC investigation funding
The Facilities and Operation Committee approved an additional $75,000 on Tuesday for the Senate’s investigation into the Department of Corrections mistaken early release of nearly 3,000 prisoners. The Senate’s initial funding cap was $50,000, bringing the total to $125,000.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley and Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, requested the additional funds in a letter to the committee. O’Ban said that the investigation will “not require supplemental funding for that request; it’s in existing funds.”
Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to release the results of a separate investigation into the Dept. of Corrections this week. That investigation cost $110,000, according to the Associated Press.