Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Washington lawmakers haven't agreed on a budget--yet.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Indeed. 

This morning, the state Senate's Republican caucus chair announced in an email that Senate leaders had agreed on a final budget plan with House Democrats, thus averting a drastic government shutdown next week

Uh, not so, tweeted Washington state Senate Dems minutes after Olympia reporters began spreading the news on Twitter. 

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, confirmed to me that no final agreement had been reached. He says he predicts lawmakers will approve a budget deal sometime today, "but a couple of issues remain to be resolved." 

Here's the email Sen. Linda Evans Parlette sent to Majority Coalition Caucus members: 

Colleagues,

I’m happy to inform you that this morning we have reached an agreement with Speaker Chopp and the House Democrats on an operating budget that will allow us to complete our work this second special session.

We conveyed to the Speaker our belief that, with it being day 15 of the second special session, time is of the essence, and that we can no longer afford to delay action if we hope to avoid a government shutdown. Families need to know that they can keep their 4th of July plans because parks will remain open. School districts need to plan their budgets. Mothers and fathers who work for the state need to be confident that they will receive their paychecks in two weeks to put food on the table for their children. And taxpayers have a right to know that the important services that they have paid for and depend on will be available to them.

This agreement will allow us to complete our work and provide the public with the certainty it deserves.

The Majority Coalition Caucus negotiators fought hard to prioritize funding for education and higher education, and the House Democrat negotiators fought equally hard for prioritizing spending on social-service programs. Neither side got everything it wanted (this is truly a compromise budget), but in the end I think we arrived at a balanced approach that everyone can live with and that brings us closer to the education-first budget many of us envisioned.

Thanks to all of you for your hard work and sacrifices over the last 6 months, and for the continued effort that will be required of you over the next few days. I especially appreciate the work each of you has done in your specific areas of the budget.

If you need to complete that work, please do so. Otherwise, please convene in the caucus room at 11:45am, so that we may brief you in greater detail on the specifics of the budget agreement.


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