State budget writers have tentatively agreed on a spending level for the state’s 2015-17 operating budget.
OLYMPIA — State budget writers have tentatively agreed on a spending level for the state’s 2015-17 operating budget, according to the director of the state Office of Financial Management.
Lawmakers are in the second special legislative session after months of a stalemate over how to fund government. If there’s no new budget by the July 1 start of the state’s new fiscal year, parts of the government will shut down.
This week’s daily meetings attended by lawmakers and hosted by Gov. Jay Inslee have led to progress.
“They basically have a spending level agreed to,” OFM director David Schumacher said Friday afternoon. He declined to give the figure.
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The overall spending number — Democrats in March proposed a $38.8 billion plan and Republicans a $37.8 billion version — has been the prime sticking point in negotiations, according to Schumacher.
But each party released an updated budget in the last week or so that moved somewhat closer to the other’s position.
Schumacher made the remarks after emerging from a meeting that included Inslee; Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina; and Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond.
As they left the governor’s office, neither Hunter nor Hill, budget writers for their respective parties, would comment.
If lawmakers in both parties green-light the agreement between Hunter and Hill, then negotiators can begin line-by-line bargaining. That’s when lawmakers will determine exactly how much to spend on education, mental-health programs, prisons and other needs.
“We have every indication” the parties will move forward with the proposed spending level, Schumacher said.
A larger group of lawmakers met earlier Friday in the latest of what have been daily meetings hosted by Inslee.