Wash. Senate Budget Rollout Won’t Be A Bipartisan Affair

Feb 27, 2012

In the Washington state Senate, a short-lived era of bipartisan cooperation on the budget appears over. Majority Democrats Tuesday will unveil their plan to rebalance the budget. But Republican leaders say they won’t be there.

Last year, the Washington state Senate did something unprecedented. Democrats, with their tenuous majority, co-wrote the state’s two-year operating budget with Republicans. Veteran Democratic State Senator Jim Hargrove took to the floor to compare it to putting a man on the moon.

“The Senate has come together to do something that is historic," he said. "It’s a big deal.”

Now, ten months later, there’s a significant hole in that two-year budget. But Republican negotiator Joe Zarelli says he can’t get behind the Democrats’ re-balancing plan.

“We’ve continued to try to work together," he says. "But I think we have a little different approach at this point.”

Democratic budget chair Ed Murray responds that Zarelli gave him a list of Republican priorities just last week. “And we were fairly dramatically far apart. He basically, in my opinion, was walking away from the bipartisan agreement.”

Still Murray, the Democrat, is hopeful he’ll win a few Republican votes for his proposal. Key sticking points include how much to cut and how much to push off into the next two-year spending cycle.

On the Web:

Washington Senate Democrats - budget:

Sen. Zarelli's 'Budget Bidbits':

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