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WA Lege Day 93: Senate budgets after day of votes

OLYMPIA -- The Senate releases its 2011-13 general operating and capital budgets this evening, sometime after 5 p.m.

Why so late? Because today is one of those make-it-or-break-it days for legislation. A non-budget bill that started in one chamber has to pass the other chamber by 5 p.m. (give or take) or be dead.

In honor of the long list of bills it faces, the Senate is cutting back on debate and taking a shorter lunch

The give or take involves when the discussion starts. As long as debate starts before 5 p.m., the vote can take place afterwards, so the gavel doesn't come down exactly at 5:00:00 p.m. But it means neither chamber is likely to go into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, because legislators eventually get hungry for dinner.

The budgets will be released shortly after the Senate recesses for the day.

The big question will be how different they are from House versions. The House passed its 2011-13 operating budget Saturday on a largely party-line vote, but Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said there will be some changes in the Senate plan. It will try to keep Basic Health, Disability Lifeline and Children's Health programs, but not necessarily at the same levels as the House, she said. The governor's plan eliminated those programs entirely.

The Senate is also not likely to propose selling or leasing the state's alcohol distribution center and using the money to pay for programs.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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