Washington Republicans and Democrats indicated Sunday they were close on a deal to finalize a state budget and prevent a government shutdown, but not close enough to end the legislative stalemate.
Lawmakers said budget negotiators had worked through Saturday night to hammer out most of the details, but adjourned Sunday without an agreement or bill for a floor vote. This means no matter what happens Monday, thousands of layoff notices will still go to state employees.
“We will get this done within the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours,” said Rep. Gary Alexander (R-Olympia), “We should be ready to print a budget by the end of the week.”
“We’re going to make some critical investments that will help move our state forward,” commented Rep. Pat Sullivan (D – Covington), “But we’re going to come back facing a significant shortfall (in the future).”
Lingering over the budget discussions is how to fund public education. The McCleary decision in the State Supreme Court which agreed K-12 education is not adequately supported financially has forced lawmakers on both sides to fight over compromises and how to fulfill the legal settlement.
A recent state revenue forecast painted a positive outlook on Washington’s finances, but Sunday many Senate Democrats remained pessimistic over the process.
“Emotions are running high,” said Sen. Jeannie Darnielle (D – Tacoma), “The effects of a government shutdown on employees are being underestimated.”
Meanwhile, as the legislature adjourned Sunday, a different kind of ceremony was being prepared in the Capitol rotunda. The wedding of Gabrielle and Steve Christenson. It was supposed to be a private affair when it was reserved six months ago. No one expected the legislature to still be at work.
“I could care less,” said Steve Christenson, “I didn’t know about (legislative session). Now that I do, that’s cool.”
Both the Senate and House will reconvene Monday.