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Spin Control

Posts tagged: final day

Gregoire, Lege leaders praise ‘historic session’

From the president's rostrum in the Senate chamber, Gov. Chris Gregoire points to twin screens showing the leaders of the House and Senate gaveling the session to a close Wednesday evening.

OLYMPIA — Shortly after the gavel came down on the 2011 Legislative session, Gov. Chris Gregoire and several legislative leaders used some of the following terms to describe it:

“Truly bipartisan. It's a new trend in  how we're going to do business,” said Gregoire.

“It's hard to say 'What a great session'.. when so many sacrifices were made,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.

“It was one of those times when the Legislatured did what the Legislature should do — solve problems,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla.

“A historic legislative session,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.

They passed budgets in tough economic times without raising taxes. Republicans got some of the reforms they wanted, Democrats saved some of the social safety net programs that were on the chopping block.

There were a few things that didn't get done, like a transportation fee bill that got hung up in the Senate because it didn't have enough votes, Brown said. And some business tax exemptions that got hung up in the House because folks got tired and ran out of time, Sullivan said. While he wouldn't necessarily agree with the term “hostages” — a term that was used by lobbyists watching the bills and some members, Sullivan did say there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for them among majority Democrats.

“Having passed a budget that didn't fund some of our priorities, it was difficult to get our members to turn around and pass tax breaks,” he said.

Speaking of the budget, the $32.2 billion general operating budget that was hailed as a model of bipartisanship when it passed the Senate Wednesday had to make it through the House the previous day without a single GOP vote. Same budget, very different partisan opinions. How could that be, the group was asked.

You'd have to ask the House Republican leadership, they said. Unfortunately, House GOP leaders were invited to the press conference but didn't attend.

Scenes from the final day: Awaiting the budget vote

OLYMPIA — Late Wednesday evening, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of Spokane and Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla wait for the vote on the 2011-13 operating budget worked out in a series of compromises between both parties.

Scenes from the final day: Therein lies the rub

OLYMPIA — Linda Chesnut thought there might be a bit of tension in the Capitol Building Wednesday and decided she should try to do something about it.

So the licensed masseuse from Body Matrix Massage set up a special chair in the hallway between the Senate and the House of Representatives and offered massages for a donation of $2 a minute. She had takers before she had the chair fully set.

“They're running late and I think a lot of people can use a stress break,” she said.

After a while, staff from General Administration told her she'd have to leave because she didn't have a permit. Too bad, because if she'd been allowed to stay, and the state taken say, a 10 percent cut, they might've taken care of that pesky budget shortfall.

WA Lege Day 103: Last day of regular session

OLYMPIA — This is scheduled to be the last day of the 105-day regular session, and the announcement of the first day of the special session of undetermined length.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's office expects to announce the start date for a special session sometime today, after resolving a basic conflict between the House and Senate.

That is, the Senate Democrats and Republicans want to start back up as soon as possible. House Democrats and Republicans want the budget writers to work on the primary reason for the special session — the unfinished budget work — before bringing everyone back.

While that decision is being pondered, the chambers will be running through bills on which they basically agree, trying to give final approval to as many as possible and getting them off to the governor for a signature.

Why does a 105-day session end on Day 103 with unfinished work? Once everyone acknowledged they weren't going to get the budget done, leadership decided to give folks Easter weekend off.

It's Good Friday. It's also Earth Day, which features a “Procession of the Species” in Olympia, a parade in which people dress up as their favorite animal or vegetable.

Today is also a furlough day for many state employees. They are taking the day off, without pay, to get some budget savings. That means some state offices like the Department of Licensing are closed, so don't get all dressed up and try to renew your drivers license today.

But don't think you can put pedal to the metal on I-90 if you're heading to grandma's house today for a weekend egg hunt. The Washington State Patrol is not on furlough today.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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