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Gregoire threatens vetoes unless a budget deal happens

OLYMPIA -- A visibly angry Gov. Chris Gregoire threatened to hold bills hostage unless legislators reach a budget deal, and accused Senate Republicans of "theatrics" for releasing their new spending plan at a morning press conference.

"It is a waste of time," she said at an afternoon press conference. "The antics of today do not advance the ball."

The budget proposal itself is a "mixed bag" because it provides more money for public schools and higher education, Gregoire said. But it uses accounting gimmicks and includes a controversial education change, to fund 10 charter schools, that would need to pass the Legislature on its own.

"I will veto it," Gregoire said of the charter schools addition, which is part of six reforms in the new budget proposal. "Stop wasting everybody's time."

To pass, any budget will need at least 25 votes in the Senate, 50 in the House and her signature. Senate Republicans demonstrated their new budget will get the 22 votes from their caucus plus the three who voted with them on a budget two weeks ago, she said. But it's unlikely to get 50 votes in the House, and won't get hers in its present form.

"25, 50 and 1. That's my new mantra," she said.

She will also refuse to sign bills that passed in the regular session until a budget  agreement is reached. If that takes more than 20 days, the time left under law, she'll veto them.

Gregoire is rarely so definitive about vetoing bills, even for legislation she on record as opposing. Usually she says she's having staff study a bill and waiting for the report.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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