OLYMPIA — An agreement on changes to the state's workers compensation system that is one of the keys to the Legislature settling on a budget was said to be “very close” this afternoon.
Which is presumably closer than the “very close” it was to fruition Saturday afternoon.
“It's so close I can almost smell the roses,” Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said Sunday afternoon in the wings of the Senate chamber as that body was getting ready to vote on some momentous legislation like getting rid of the Higher Education Coordinating Board and replacing it with another board that will oversee higher education. An announcement was expected “within a couple hours.”
Late Saturday afternoon, Jim Justin, Gov. Chris Gregoire's legislative director, had also described an agreement as “very close.” But legislative leaders and Gregoire spent time Sunday discussing it, so presumably they got very closer. Or verier close. Or verier closer. Whatever.
As for the general operating budget — the $32 billion two-year spending plan which is the Legislature's constitutional duty to set — well that too is (you guessed it) very close.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said there were some small points to settle, but he was confident that would happen. “I'm more nervous about the time left than I am about the details of the budget.”
That's because as of today, the special session is 90 percent done, and only three days remain until adjournment. After an agreement is reached, the budget still has to be printed and circulated.
Asked what points remained to be settled, Murray declined: “I'm not going to negotiate in the media.”