Washington Lawmakers Still At Odds Over Budget

Mar 13, 2012

Washington state lawmakers continue to talk about how to solve a disagreement over the state budget. A special overtime session started this week. They’re trying to close a budget gap of about $500 million.

Initially, Governor Gregoire proposed a temporary increase in the sales tax. But Senator Joe Zarelli, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee says lawmakers aren’t interested in pursuing that.

“A couple of years ago, we raised taxes on candy and soda pop and all that stuff and the public didn’t like that and repealed it," Zarelli says. "So at some point, sometimes, you just have to accept the fact that it is what it is, and in this case, what it is is we have X amount of money and we have to fit our spending into the box of the amount of money that we have.”

Instead of new taxes, lawmakers are talking about closing the budget gap through a series of cuts. And they’re at odds about the details ... especially about funding for education and pension plans.

Senate Republicans are technically in the minority. But they were able to pass their plan through the Senate. That was after they won the support of three fiscally conservative Democratic Senators.

That plan hasn’t gone anywhere in the House, where Democrats have passed their own plan.

Governor Gregoire has been meeting this week with party leaders to agree on a framework for future budget negotiations. And most lawmakers are expected back in Olympia Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 KUOW