OLYMPIA -- A special session is being discussed as a foregone conclusion today, and Republican leaders are blaming disorganization by the Democrats as the key reason.
While Democratic leaders are trying to find common ground in the different tax packages approveld by the House and Senate, GOP leaders were more caustic than usual in their weekly session with reporters.
"This is sthe most chaotic session I've ever seen," Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla said. "I hope I never see another one."
Added House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis: "They seem to not know what's going on."
Republicans pointed to a series of time-eating decisions or miscues by Democrats that contributed to the Legislature being on the brink of going into extra innnings.
Among them the need for the Senate to vote three times on legislation to suspend Initiative 960, which required a supermajority to raise taxes, and a decision to hold a hearing on short notice of a bill that would have swapped a portion of the state sales tax for an income tax on persons making more than $200,000 a year. The latter generated kudos from college students facing aid cuts and social service groups, but brickbats from the business community. After the hearing, it slipped into oblivion.
GOP leaders were equally critical of some ideas that have surfaced in recent days as the Houses passed very different spending plans. One plan calls for lottery proceeds to be directed to early and higher education programs and marketed heavily, to increase participation and receipts by tying the lottery to kids and education.
"All dollars are green and used in the general fund," Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgeview said. "I don't think our way out of this economic situation is to gamble our way out of it."
Each house passed a tax plan with tiny majorities -- the bare minimum of 25 in the Senate and just one greater than that, 52, in the House.Over the weekend, the Senate had to delay the tax vote for a day because one of their members who was voting for the bill was absent to attend a family funeral.
"Several Democrats are feeling the wind at their fronts instead of their backs and they're afraid to take the vote," Hewitt said.