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Republican leaders say budget talks progressing

by caprecord

As a March 23 goal for the release of the House budget gets closer, Republican leaders expressed hope that the Washington Legislature will pass a budget by the scheduled final day of session — the last Sunday in April.

The legislative chambers take turns releasing the first version of two-year budgets; this year, it is the House’s turn and the Senate will follow. In past years, tussling over the two-year budget has resulted in special sessions and preparations for possible government shutdowns.

Gov. Jay Inslee has already released his $39 billion two-year budget, which includes a capital gains tax.

This year, lawmakers have to deal with requirements of the McCleary ruling, which requires a boost in spending for K-12 education.

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
Rep. Dan Kristiansen

But Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish County, said at a press conference Tuesday that he was hopeful that lawmakers were making progress.

“I think we’re on the trajectory right now to get out on time,” Kristiansen said.

Kristiansen said his caucus will be closely watching for new spending in the House’s budget.

“My  concern is that we put out a budget that will have a lot of expenditures that is going to need a lot of tax revenue,” Kristiansen said. “We believe… that we can’t put out a budget with a bunch of new revenue, if any, and it’s going to come down to priorities.”

However, Kristiansen characterized the budget discussions, which is led by the Democrats in majority in the House, as collaborative.

“We have never seen so much dialogue, collaboration amongst the budget writers on both sides of the aisle working together, even from my perspective in the House,” he said. “I’ve got my budget writers, alongside Democrat budget writers working together several times a week, even outside of committee.”

Inslee, at a press conference earlier on Tuesday, also characterized the Legislature’s talks as productive.

“I think legislators have done well so far this year, in trying to prepare for the serious heavy lifting of the budget,” Inslee said. “So, I report that legislators are on a good track on this.”

However, at a press conference on Monday, Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, says his caucus was still considering a budget release by next week, but declined to commit to a day

“It’s when we finish our work,” he said.