Wash. Legislature passes budget proposal, adjourns

Apr 11, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Gregoire played the role of negotiator-in-chief. Her shuttle diplomacy finally brought the Washington House and Senate to a bipartisan go-home deal. Lawmakers needed some extra time on the clock. But they were able to pass a budget that closes a half-billion dollar budget shortfall.

The deal accomplishes that goal with a combination of cuts, fund transfers and even a tax on roll-your-own cigarettes. Lawmakers also approved a package of public works construction projects. The goal is to create 20,000 jobs.

And then there were a series of reform measures designed to save the state money down the road. One would scale back early retirement benefits for future state hires. Thornton Alberg watched that vote from the House gallery. He’s a current state worker and union leader.

“Feels like a personal attack. We’ve taken pay cuts, we’ve taken health care benefit cuts, furlough days,” Alberg said.

But Governor Gregoire praised lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for coming together to take “tough votes.”