Washington budget crisis

Washington prisons would stay open, but much of the state would not if there’s a government shutdown. Governor Jay Inslee met with his cabinet Wednesday to begin contingency planning if there’s no budget by the end of the month. That’s the start of the new fiscal year.

“We’re not talking about opening the prison doors because there are clear federal mandates from the federal constitution and federal laws to provide for folks that are in our care and custody,” says Nick Brown, the Governor’s attorney.

There were dramatic developments in Olympia overnight. Governor Jay Inslee held a midnight bill signing to amend Washington’s estate tax. The move means the Department of Revenue will not begin to issue refund checks Friday morning to the heirs of some multi-million dollar estates.

The state of Washington was about to embark on a months-long process of refunding an estimated $140 million to more than 100 estates. This was the result of a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year. The money would have come out of a fund dedicated to public schools.

The supplemental budget proposal submitted by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire today includes cuts in higher education funding and the suspension of the State Work Study Program for college and university students.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Republicans call it a bad idea. Advocates on the left say it’s not enough. Those are some of the responses to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal Monday to temporarily raise the state sales tax.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington voters last year rejected a state income tax on high-wage earners. Now a left-of-center think tank is proposing a tax on investors to help bail out the state budget.