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Protests to greet state lawmakers as budget cuts loom


Washington lawmakers return to Olympia this week, but not for a special session. They're getting organized for the regular session in January. That will bring out advocates who plan to stage protests over looming budget cuts.

Various proposals are floating around Olympia to close a projected one-point-one billion dollar shortfall in the current two-year budget.

The question is: can majority Democrats in the legislature get quick agreement on an initial round of cuts to start solving that proble? If so, Governor Chris Gregoire wants call a special session that would last a day or two.

Targets of those potential cuts aren’t waiting. Unionized mental health workers will gather at the Capitol to sound the alarm. And Jerry Reilly with Washington’s ElderCare Alliance is sponsoring what he calls a “people’s budget hearing.”

“At the end of the day, I hope people begin to understand that there are other options available that do need to be looked at,” said Reilly.

Namely closing tax preferences or loopholes. And even raising taxes to avoid deeper cuts. Washington has already reduced projected spending by $5 billion and faces another nearly $6 billion hole over the next three years.