OLYMPIA, Wash. - Lawmakers say they have reached agreement "in principle" on a new two-year operating budget, but won't release any details.
After budget negotiators met throughout the night, Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement about the agreement Wednesday morning, saying that legislative leaders were confident they would have a vote on the budget before the end of the day Friday. That would put them within hours of a deadline to avert a partial government shutdown.
The rest of the Legislature wasn't expected to be briefed on details of the agreement until Thursday, and the public won't see the information until after that occurs.
The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-led Senate have been struggling for months to find compromise on a budget that addresses a state Supreme Court mandate on education funding. They are in the midst of a third overtime session, and if a new budget isn't signed into law by midnight Friday, a partial shutdown starts July 1.
While lawmakers are optimistic a shutdown will be avoided, Washington State Parks is still planning on closing parks Friday just in case the deal is not signed by the Friday night deadline.
"If we don't hear something definitive from the governor's office, then we'll start down that path," said Mike Sternback, assistant director of Washington State Parks.
John Lester, from Bellingham, was planning on spending the weekend camping at Millersylvania State Park. Planning for a potential shutdown could cut his camping trip short.
"That is silly," said Lester, "That seems like a waste of resources because they (lawmakers) can't get their stuff straight."
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