The first special session – and we feel pretty safe referring to it as the first, as a second appears all but inevitable – ends Thursday. Lawmakers remain divided on the issues that divided them from the beginning. As Jim Camden writes in the Spokesman-Review,
There is much talk in the capital these days about needing to agree on “the box,” which may be confusing to the general public…
Legislative budgeteers are jammed up trying to agree on the size of this box, which isn’t really a box at all, but a sum of money which makes up the amount the state will spend on a wide array of programs for two years starting on July 1.
Until the sum is agreed to, it’s difficult for the details to be negotiated. Austin Jenkins has a nice rundown on current developments.
There are indications the pace of budget negotiations has picked up, but a second special session is still likely.
Washington House Democrats and Senate Republicans say they’ve been trading budget offers back and forth. But a final spending deal is still elusive.
Democrats have backed away from calls for a $1.5 billion tax package. But they’re still pushing a new capital gains tax. Republicans continue to maintain that no additional taxes are needed.
That $1.5 billion tax package was partially overtaken by positive revenue collections and forecasts. So, the size of the revenue box is now fixed. The Senate thinks spending can be contained within it; the House wants a bigger box.
Meanwhile, the clock runs down.