No budget deal in Washington, House plans action

Originally published on April 3, 2012 3:50 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s deadline for a bipartisan budget deal has come and gone. Lawmakers Tuesday failed to agree on a plan to rebalance the state budget and implement so-called government reforms.

Now, House Democrats say they will pass their own budget in hopes of breaking the logjam.

The clock runs out next Tuesday on the current 30-day overtime session. Gregoire has been unable to broker a deal between House Democrats and the Republican-led philosophical majority that emerged in the state Senate.

Negotiations bogged down over the so-called reform agenda. It includes: proposals to end early retirement for state employees, consolidate K-12 employee health plans and require four-year balanced budgets. House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan blames Republicans.

“Initially we saw a cry that we need ‘reform before revenue’ and now we’re hearing a cry of ‘reform before budget’ and you know that basically shuts down government.”

Republicans respond that without the reform measures, Washington will face ongoing budget shortfalls.

House Democrats have scheduled hearings this week on their own reform measures. But the Senate’s Republican budget writer Joe Zarelli says those measures so scaled back they amount to -- as he put it -- “dust.”

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