Gregoire to Legislature: Everyone's tired. Get over it
OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire again tried to avoid saying the words “special session” while acknowledging it's clear the Legislature will not finish by midnight, even with a new budget proposal available for a vote in the House.
That plan is “a good step forward”, but she's still waiting for legislative leaders to bring her a different compromise that bridges the big gap between Democrats and Republicans on key revenue questions.
“I want a conceptual agreement by the end of the day,” she said. If the Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers can agree to that, the budget writers can spend the time needed to work out spending details.
A key disagreement between the two parties involves which payment to avoid. Democrats want to delay a $323 million payment to schools from the end of June 2013 to July 1. That shifts it into a different biennium, so on paper the state has more money to spend. Republicans want to skip a $133 million payment on state pensions if the Legislature will pass reforms to the retirement systems that they say will save money in the longrun.
Gregoire said she'd rather delay the school payment than skip the pension payment, but told legislative leaders at a morning meeting to come up with other budget options to avoid doing either.
“I'm not going to pretend it's a love fest in there. Tensions are high but nobody's dug in,” she said.
To suggestions from some legislators that they take a few days off to give members a cooling-off period before returning to budget discussions, Gregoire said she wouldn't do that without a working plan for a budget. “I'm tired, too. Tough. Get over it.”
Scroll down to read previous posts on today's budget discussions.