OLYMPIA -- The Legislature could be rolling toward adjournment later today if budget writers' plans come to pass. And pass.
The $480 million supplemental budget passed by the House Tuesday evening -- the down payment or partial down payment or bite of the apple or fourth of a loaf budget, take your pick -- could go to a floor vote in the Senate today.
If Senators are humming "I'll be Home for Christmas" when they come out of caucus this morning, that'll could be considered a good sign. If they're humming "Blue Christmas", not so much.
If the budget passes without further amendments, the Legislature could call it quits and most members go home to egg nog and carols, and perhaps a long winter's nap until Jan. 9, when the regular session starts.
Budget negotiators and leadership may stay behind for much of that three week period, trying to get a jump start on discussions that will resume with renewed intensity in that 60-day session.
One House member last night tried to work out the math for how long it might take to close the remaining budget gap of $1.5 billion, and concluded it could be 18 months. We're not sure what his formula looks like for that, because a straight-line calculation suggests that if a Legislature can cut almost $500 million in 17 days, it could cut $1.5 billion in 51 days.
But these kinds of equations are never straight lines, and one has to add in certain X factors, such as the growth of the budget imbalance, the intransigence of certain politicians, the pressure of certain interest groups, and the influence of upcoming elections.
Stay tuned today for updates on the possible end game for the special session.