Washington lawmakers aim for some cuts before holidays

Dec 9, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire appears to have given up hope of a balanced budget on her desk by Christmas. Instead, this week her budget director sent lawmakers a shorter wish list to get done before they adjourn for the holidays.

The protesters have gone home. So have many lawmakers.

But majority Democrats in the Washington legislature say they will be back next week with a goal. Cut the $1.4 billion budget shortfall down by, say, $500 million.

The secret list

The governor's office has sent them a secret list of ideas for how to do this – a combination of cuts and fund transfers. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown says her members have their own short list for an initial round of cuts.

"I think the smaller bite of the apple is coming together," she says.

Lawmakers would tackle the rest of the budget gap and take up the issue of taxes and government reform when they return for the regular session in the New Year.

House Republican leader Richard DeBolt says the special session is on what he calls the "brink of failure." But adds, a "partial solution" to the budget problem is better than "no solution" at all.

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