...so he can ask "Deal. Or No Deal?"
It would appear that a legislative deal on a tax package remains somewhat elusive. After meeting for about 35 minutes with Gov. Chris Gregoire, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and House Speaker Frank Chopp went out a side door to avoid the waiting press corps that thought they smelled news of a deal.
Brown said in an interview about 4 p.m. that they were very close to what she called a "go home" deal on taxes -- so called because it would allow legislators to go home for good, as opposed to for a few days until their leaders call them back to take votes.
The deal included about $800 million in tax increases for the remainder of the biennium. It got that amount without raising the sales tax, but there would be an increase in the tax on beer. She declined further comment on what was in the proposal, emphasizing that it wasn't yet final but that she'd be meeting with Gregoire and Chopp shortly.
The three gathered about 4:37 p.m. in Gregoire's office, and legislative communications staff were standing by for any potential announcement of a deal. Imagine everyone's surprise when a member of the governor's staff came out about 5:15 to say Brown and Chopp had left....
While Brown seemed relatively confident she could round up 25 Senate votes for the package, Chopp couldn't be so sure he could deliver the necessary 50 from the House. A House staff member said as many as 25 Democratic House members may be calling into a teleconference this evening to get briefed on the package and a chance to indicate whether they'd vote yes or no.
No public statements from the House until Thursday morning, when they could get around to appointing their members to a conference committee to handle the end game on the budget and tax package.