OLYMPIA — The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus is telling its members a deal has been struck over the state's 2013-15 budget.
Gov. Jay Inslee's staff cautions, however, that there is no final agreement.
Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, in an e-mail to members, describes it as “truly a compromise budget”. in which no one got everything they wanted but “in the end I think we arrived at a balanced approach that everyone can live with and that brings us closer to the education-first budget many of us envisioned. ”
It may not be a fully cooked deal, however, Sen. Joe Fain, the coalitions floor leader, told reporters there are still some issues to be worked out, just before leaving the House wings with Rep. Reuven Carlyle, the House Finance Committee Chairman.
David Postman, the governor's spokesman, said talk of a deal is premature: No one has reported to the governor or his budget director that there is an agreement. And, in fact, the House has told us that it is still negotiating with the Senate at this hour. We believe we are close, but as of now there is more work to be done. I’ll take it as a good sign that the Senate is anxious to make an announcement, but it is premature for anyone to say at this point that a deal has been struck.
Inslee has a noon meeting with his cabinet to discuss contingencies in case there's a partial government shutdown next week. His staff is scheduled to give an update when that meeting ends around 1 p.m.
I’m happy to inform you that this morning we have reached an agreement with Speaker Chopp and the House Democrats on an operating budget that will allow us to complete our work this second special session.
We conveyed to the Speaker our belief that, with it being day 15 of the second special session,time is of the essence, and that we can no longer afford to delay action if we hope to avoid a government shutdown. Families need to know that they can keep their 4th of July plans because parks will remain open. School districts need to plan their budgets. Mothers and fathers who work for the state need to be confident that they will receive their paychecks in two weeks to put food on the table for their children. And taxpayers have a right to know that the important services that they have paid for and depend on will be available to them.
This agreement will allow us to complete our work and provide the public with the certainty it deserves.
The Majority Coalition Caucus negotiators fought hard to prioritize funding for education and higher education, and the House Democrat negotiators fought equally hard for prioritizing spending on social-service programs. Neither side got everything it wanted (this is truly a compromise budget), but in the end I think we arrived at a balanced approach that everyone can live with and that brings us closer to the education-first budget many of us envisioned.
Thanks to all of you for your hard work and sacrifices over the last 6 months, and for the continued effort that will be required of you over the next few days. I especially appreciate the work each of you has done in your specific areas of the budget.
If you need to complete that work, please do so. Otherwise, please convene in the caucus room at 11:45am, so that we may brief you in greater detail on the specifics of the budget agreement.
LINDA EVANS PARLETTE
Washington State Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Chair
Phone: (360) 786-7622