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Lawmakers talk about possibility of special session

by caprecord

With operating budget negotiations still far apart, lawmakers talked to reporters Tuesday about the possibility of a special session after regular session ends on Sunday.

“The chance of having a budget by Sunday is infinitesimally small,” said Rep. Ross Hunter, D- Medina, the House’s head budget writer.

He said budgets by the Democratic-lead House and Republican-majority Senate have too many differences to hash out before Wednesday, which he says would be the latest that the sides could come to general agreement on a budget.

capitol_dome“Even if we came to agreement on the amount of new revenue we need, we will have to go through weeks of detailed negotiation,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee agreed with Hunter’s opinion about the chances of finishing on time.

“I think his assessment is correct, so we’ll have to think about the next steps,” Inslee said in remarks made after a bill signing.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said going into overtime is not a foregone conclusion.

“I’ve always said the glass is half full and I want to be the last one to give up the last glimmer of hope,” he told reporters at a Republican leadership media availability.

However, if legislators do go into overtime, Republican leaders said they want to start immediately without first taking a break.

“I feel like if we’re having a special session, let’s get back in on Monday morning and hammer something out if that’s where we end up,” said Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, told reporters.

Aside from the operating budget, lawmakers still have yet to reach a final agreement this year on a $15 billion transportation package that would pay for road projects and other transportation infrastructure with a statewide gas tax increase, and reform of school levies, which lawmakers hope will bring the state in compliance with a state Supreme Court’s ruling on the McClearly school funding case.