As Special Session nears the end of week two, movement has been slow but still forward in nature. Today, the full Senate is on the floor to move a handful of job-creation related bills, while the House is expected to return to the floor tomorrow. The leadership of both chambers have been in negotiations for most of the week while the majority of legislators have been away as negotiations continue.
As stated earlier this week, policymakers have reached an agreement that $800 million is the revenue target. In addition, negotiations are taking place with regard to the operating and capital budgets for the 2010 supplemental session, though neither can be finalized until the elephant in the room is resolved – revenue.
Lawmakers remain gridlocked over how to raise this revenue, the primary dividing point being the implementation of a sales tax. The Senate still supports a temporary general sales-taxe increase and the House does not.
Frustration is in abundance. The Democrats are frustrated that they cannot get the votes necessary to pass an agreed upon revenue package. The Republicans are frustrated because the special session continues. The Governor is frustrated regarding all the above.
In the latest to come out of Olympia, Governor Gregoire has made it clear that she may be forced to make across-the-board cuts of 20 percent if the Legislature does not reach a budget-balancing agreement. Gregoire has no plans to call a second special session unless a firm deal is in place. In lieu of any firm deal post the first special session, the only other choice would be across-the-board cuts.
As for now, the bills needed to implement a 2010 supplemental operating budget, 2010 supplemental capital budget, and increase revenue remain where they were this weekend. In addition, the bills that Evergreen is tracking this special session also have not moved further in the process.