Local news

Special session starts Saturday

OLYMPIA – State lawmakers will convene a weekend special session to substantially cut the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Thursday.

The bipartisan agreement will reduce the state’s revenue shortfall through June by about $790 million, Gregoire and legislative leaders said. The special session will start Saturday morning with a goal of wrapping up work in one day.

“If all goes well and the creek don’t rise, we’ll go home Saturday night. Who knows what hour, but Saturday night,” Gregoire said.

About $200 million of the total savings will come from capturing some of Gregoire’s previously ordered across-the-board spending cuts. Roughly $210 million more will come from federal money intended to boost education jobs. The balance of savings measures includes reductions to social services, prisons and education. The agreement also counts on about $51 million in transfers from dedicated accounts outside the state general fund.

Specific savings include roughly $39 million from eliminating a class-size payment for K-4 public schools, while another $14 million comes from additional furloughs for the Department of Social and Health Services. Two major social service programs financed entirely by the state – the Basic Health Plan and Disability Lifeline – also will see spending reductions.

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