OLYMPIA — With two weeks left in the 2012 session, and the Senate's budget proposal still about four days away from being released, some legislators are expressing doubt that they will leave town on time.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said Thursday, however, she thought finishing work without the need of a special session was doable. . “That's the plan. . .
House Democrats and House Republicans have each released budgets, which have no visible support from members of the opposing parties.
Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, has been working with Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield, the ranking Republican on that panel, on a different operating budget that might garner bipartisan support.
“I can't speak to the number of (Republican) votes,” Brown, a Spokane Democrat, said.
The Senate operating budget will be released Tuesday, leaving just 10 days to wrap up everything.
Along with the changes to the beleaguered operating budget, the Legislature must also pass a Capital construction budget (sometimes known as the Jobs package), and a revised transportation budget. There's legislation on medical insurance exchanges to meet federal health care reforms which Gov. Chris Gregoire wants but Republicans insist aren't necessary.
There are some proposals for government reforms, a proposal for a constitutional amendment on balanced budgets. And there's a question of a tax increase. Gregoire proposed a temporary sales tax increase, which Republicans in both chambers oppose. The House Democrats' budget doesn't have a state tax increase in it, but offers plenty of chances for local taxes to go up, though. The Senate budget will balance without a tax increase, but there may be a proposal to ask voters to approve some sort of increase.
“We have not completely ruled that out,” Brown said.
So with all that on the table, can the Legislature really finish on time? Yes it could, Brown said: “There will still be controversies before we're done. Everybody's talking. When you need to get worried is when they're not talking.”