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Wash. Special Session: No Budget Deal, House Plans Action Anyway

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.

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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.”

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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.