Spin Control

Special Session Day 30: Budget, other bills headed for votes tonight

OLYMPIA -- Legislators expect to vote later tonight on a budget and a package of reforms that have been the subject of negotiations for more than a month.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said agreement has been reached on the budget and  on changes to the state's pension system around early retirement provisions. A proposal for planning a four-year balanced budget instead of the current two years is almost done, and changes to public school employees' health care is also very close.

Those bills must still be printed, brought to one chamber's floor for passage, then moved to the other for passage in the same form.

"We have an agreement to vote," Brown said. That's not quite the same as an agreement on all sides to pass all the legislation. That remains to be seen, in the voting.

There are questions about whether that can be done by midnight, the end of the special session. If they run out of time, it would be possible for the governor to call another special session with the understanding it was just to finish that work, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla said. It would also be possible for the Legislature to call itself back into special session.

Senate Democrats were called into a caucus at 5:20 p.m. with the admonition: If you want information, we have information.

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