Spin Control

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2012, 10:40 A.M.

Special Session Day 15: Halfway over?

OLYMPIA -- Today is Day 15 of the Legislature's 30-day Special Session, so we are at the midway point of...what?

Top budget writers reportedly continue meeting behind closed doors to look for a way to craft a budget that doesn't spend more than the state takes in and leaves something in the bank when the fiscal period ends.

Legislative leaders have been told to abandon two of their favorite ways to make the books balance, a delayed payment to school districts, which Democrats support but Republicans won't accept, and a skipped payment to the state's pension system, which Republicans support but Democrats won't accept.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she hasn't heard "No" from the two parties on what's behind Door No. 3, a change in the way the state accounts for local sales tax payments that come into the state then go out to the cities and counties a couple months later. It would "free up" $238 million that could be added into the budget. Unlike the other two accounting maneuvers, the state treasurer does not call this a "felony gimmick" but a "modernized business practice.

Therer's no way of telling whether we are halfway to the end of anything at this point.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.