OLYMPIA -- Signs of progress in the ongoing budget talks as the second special session have been pretty hard to find.
This might be one: Legislative leaders scheduled a second closed-door meeting in the governor's office today. The daily 10 a.m. meeting broke up after about 15 minutes, but the group reconvened at 3 p.m. for another one.
This after the House Appropriations Committee cancelled a previously scheduled 11 a.m. meeting to vote on the latest plan by House Democrats. Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said he and ranking Republican Bruce Chandler agreed to the delay because budget talks have been productive with "significant movement on both sides." A committee session to vote on the budget plan could take several hours to consider various amendments, Hunter said after the morning meeting in the governor's office, time that that could be better spent on negotiations.
The most recent spending plans by Senate Republicans and House Democrats are about $500 million apart in terms of the amount they would spend, and the revenue needed to cover those expenditures. Senate Republicans say they can't accept a proposed capital gains tax on upper income investors that's part of the House plan. House Democrats object to some of the spending levels and certain accounting measures they call unsustainable "gimmicks" in the Senate plan.
David Postman, a spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the meetings are not yet at a point where negotiators were going through sections of the budget to resolve differences in spending.
But after weeks in which budget talks moved at a glacial pace, if at all, just holding two meetings could be considered movement at lightning speed.