OLYMPIA, Wash. - If state lawmakers don't reach an agreement on a budget by the end of the 30-day special session, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she will be forced to make deep cuts to balance the budget.
"It would mean something like 20 percent cuts across the board," said Gregoire. "We're not even absolutely sure how you would do that."
Legislators are trying to balance a budget despite an estimated $2.8 billion deficit. After 10 days into a special session, lawmakers seem deadlocked.
House members are pushing for tax increases on businesses and lifting sales tax exemptions on some items.The Senate is pushing for a sales tax increase.
"Twenty percent cuts across the board, that's pretty Draconian," said Rep. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, one of the few legislators on the capitol campus Wednesday. Most legislators were sent home Tuesday and Wednesday while leaders negotiate the budget.
Hasegawa said the Governor's comments could help bring about a compromise because her proposed cuts would cause a hardship for many in the state.
"I could pretty much guarantee people will die," Rep. Hasegawa responded when asked about the cutting the state's budget by 20 percent.