Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative leaders early Saturday said they had agreed “in principle” to a budget, ending the threat of a government shutdown next week.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative leaders early Saturday announced an agreement “in principle” on a two-year operating budget, a deal reached after months of debate and ultimately, many hours Friday night in the governor’s office.
“This agreement ends the threat of a government shutdown on July 1,” according to a news release issued by Inslee’s office just before 1:30 a.m.
Details were not provided. Lawmakers and the governor will meet again Saturday morning to finalize details, according to the statement, and more information will be made available.
To avoid a government shutdown Wednesday, lawmakers know they must find compromise on the 2015-17 state operating budget by the end of Tuesday.
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Legislators are at the end of a second special legislative session, and have spent the last couple of months debating how to fund, among other things, education programs, social services and cost-of-living raises for teachers and state workers.
Also in the mix has been a GOP proposal to cut college tuition by 25 percent and Democrats’ idea to freeze tuition, but give more help to those in financial need.
If the session were to go beyond Saturday, Inslee would need to call a third special session. It was unclear early Saturday when all the elements of the budget would be completed.
Around 11 p.m. Friday, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina and chief Democratic budget writer, said lawmakers were making progress. Hunter said legislative leaders from both parties were continuing to meet, spurred on by Inslee.
“They’re definitely forcing closure, which is a great thing,” Hunter said, referring to the governor’s office.
Summing up the progress, Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond and chief GOP budget writer, said, “All good signs.”