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Senate leaders say state budget deal reached


Leaders in the Washington state Senate say lawmakers have agreed to the framework of a new budget to avert a government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said Wednesday that negotiators have settled on the major components of the budget, allowing staff to go through the process of officially writing it. He expects lawmakers will be able to vote on the spending plan Thursday or early Friday.

Through a spokeswoman, House Speaker Frank Chopp says there is no deal yet but that lawmakers are close. Tom acknowledges that all the details of the budget had not been finalized but he says the lingering issues would not hold up the process.

Negotiators have been squabbling for weeks over the budget in hopes of reaching a final compromise. Thousands of state employees would be laid off on Monday if lawmakers haven't approved a new spending plan by then.