Eye On Olympia

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From the print paper:


Each January, by tradition, Washington’s top lawmakers choose theme songs for the upcoming session. Most are lighthearted.

Speaking to reporters last week, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown read from a Bob Dylan song.

“Broken hands on broken plows, broken treaties, broken vows,” she read. “Broken pipes, broken tools, people bending broken rules.

“Hound dog howling, bullfrog croaking, everything is broken.”

Welcome to Olympia, on the eve of a $6 billion state budget shortfall. Brown and the state’s other 148 lawmakers on Monday will begin a high-stakes battle over what to cut, what to save, and whether they can persuade a recession-saddled public to support tax increases. The state’s budget woes are fixable, Brown says, but it won’t be easy.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” said state Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.

The $6 billion gap is unprecedented, although as a percentage, the state’s faced worse.

“It’s not even remotely close to what the 1933 and 1935 legislatures faced,” said historian Don Brazier. Still, he said, “this is the worst that I’ve seen, and I’ve been here 42 years.”

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