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Washington lawmakers aim for some cuts before holidays

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire appears to have given up hope of a balanced budget on her desk by Christmas. Instead, this week her budget director sent lawmakers a shorter wish list to get done before they adjourn for the holidays.

The protesters have gone home. So have many lawmakers.

But majority Democrats in the Washington legislature say they will be back next week with a goal. Cut the $1.4 billion budget shortfall down by, say, $500 million.

The secret list

The governor's office has sent them a secret list of ideas for how to do this – a combination of cuts and fund transfers. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown says her members have their own short list for an initial round of cuts.

"I think the smaller bite of the apple is coming together," she says.

Lawmakers would tackle the rest of the budget gap and take up the issue of taxes and government reform when they return for the regular session in the New Year.

House Republican leader Richard DeBolt says the special session is on what he calls the "brink of failure." But adds, a "partial solution" to the budget problem is better than "no solution" at all.

On the Web:

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.