Posts tagged: budget impasse
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.
OLYMPIA — With time running out on the regular session, House Democrats are poised to vote on another general fund budget plan sometime today, a compromise between the budget they passed more than a week ago and the Senate Democratic budget that never came to a vote in that chamber.
Senate Republicans, who passed their own budget with the help of three breakaway Democrats, seem confident that it won't pass the Senate.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, acknowledged shortly before noon that he doesn't have the 25 votes to pass the bill if it comes to the Senate. “Not yet,” he added.
Details of the spending plan are available here. It contains one of the main sticking points between the two parties, a delay of a $323 million payment to schools, which Democrats support and Republicans oppose. It does not skip a pension payment worth about $133 million, which Republicans favor and Democrats oppose.
Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield, the top Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, was confident the working majority the GOP formed last week for its budget will hold against this proposal, which he said was negotiated between the Democrats in each chamber.
“We haven't had one conversation, we wasted six days,” Zarelli said. “It's a little juvenile, and its posturing. It's like hanging up the phone on somebody you don't like instead of talking it out.”
Murray said that if the House passes the revised budget as expected, it would come to the Senate where Republicans could offer amendments to add or subtract things they want for a compromise. That amended budget could then go back to the House for final passage.
“We could be done by midnight,” Murray said, adding that was a goal. “Once you go into special session, everybody wants to bring up everything.”
The 60-day session is scheduled to adjourn sine die by midnight tonight.
OLYMPIA — On the legislative calendar, this is Day 60 of a 60-day session. The two chambers are scheduled to adjourn for good no later than midnight tonight.
Whether they'll go until 24:00:00 or not is unknown. What is known, however, is that they'll be back. They'll need more time to finish the budget. See previous blog post for more details.
It's not clear yet when, or how long a special session will take place. There might be some hints around noon, when Gov. Chris Gregoire signs a bill that revises the state's teacher evaluation rules. There's no connection between teacher evaluations and the special session, but after the governor signs legislation, she takes questions from reporters. First question is likely to be something like:
“So governor, about that special session…”
Stay tuned. We'll keep you updated.