In reality, only a handful of budget negotiators are actually here. They're doing the same thing they've been doing for weeks: batting back and forth occasional proposals for a state spending plan. The thus-far-elusive goal: building something that most of the Senate and most of the House of Representatives can vote for.
The long, slow slog has been bad news for state-paid in-home health aides, who have seen their $97 million raises-and-benefits proposal whittled down to a reported $35 million that doesn't include any health insurance. But that fight's still going on.
Lawmakers and staffers are hoping to bring the political circus back to Olympia around the middle of next week. The special session ends June 10, so that ticking clock is some incentive to get things done.
A bigger incentive, though, is the looming date of June 19, when the state's top economist will again peer into his crystal ball and forecast what state revenues are going to do in the near future. Some lawmakers fear that that report will be grim, and they're anxious to get the budget done -- and themselves out of town -- before the state's already-bad budget picture gets even worse.