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News & Music Contributors
Sun June 23, 2013
With no budget deal, state just 1 week away from gov't shutdown
Washington state is now just one week away from a government shutdown after no deal emerged Sunday.
Since a budget vote is not likely before midnight, thousands of state workers will be given layoff notices tomorrow.
They will be temporarily laid off if there is no budget deal over the next seven days.
Legislators from both parties said Sunday they were still searching for a final budget compromise.
Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle said negotiators are making consistent and meaningful progress but that they are still lacking agreement on some "central" policy and financial issues.
Republican Rep. Gary Alexander said he expected a deal would come together by the end of the day Monday, with hopes of passing the budget by the middle of the week.
"I didn't expect a shutdown from day one, and I don't expect one now," Alexander said.
The state's current two-year budget comes to a close at the end of June, and the state believes 34 agencies will have to completely cease operations if there is no new spending plan. Another 24 agencies would face partial shutdowns and 25 would remain open.
Lawmakers have been struggling to shape a final budget since the beginning of the year, and they're now well past a mid-April end of the regular legislative session.
"We're willing to work as hard as we can and spend the long hours to get the work done but we need to make sure that we have an honest, sustainable budget that will lead us over the next two years and that has to be our highest priority," House Democratic Majority Leader Pat Sullivan of the 47th District said.
Budget negotiators have declined to discuss the specifics of their disagreement, citing ongoing discussions that involve a constant exchange of proposals. However, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said the biggest lingering disagreement centers around how much money to spend on education.
Tom, a conservative Democrat who leads a Senate majority dominated by Republicans, said his caucus wants specific funding levels for education and higher education while House Democrats are looking to have some of that education money in social services programs.
Tom had previously predicted that the Senate would complete its work by Sunday. He expressed optimism about the ongoing budget talks but also expressed disappointment that the talks weren't moving at a faster pace.
"I think we failed for not getting done today," Tom said.