OLYMPIA — Washington’s Legislature granted final approval to a grim two-year budget late Saturday, with Democrats and Republicans arguing into the night over a spending blueprint that would whack $4 billion from education, health care and social services.
It was a stark turnaround from the previous four years, when majority Democrats and Gov. Chris Gregoire pumped money into many of the same programs that face the budget knife in 2009.
Democratic leaders were stung by the change, but in the end did not propose general tax increases to help balance the budget, which calls for spending about $35 billion through mid-2011. Instead, budget writers cut, transferred and juggled their way through a $9 billion deficit between expected revenue and spending.
About $5 billion of the shortfall was made up with federal money, raids of outside accounts, and other one-time fixes that defer underlying budget problems. The balance was covered with cuts that hit virtually every area of government. Nearly $830 million would be left in reserves.
The Senate granted final approval on a nearly party-line 29-20 vote Saturday night, sending the plan to Gregoire for final approval. Lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn their regular session Sunday night.