Inslee to sign budget Sunday with just hours to spare

Inslee to sign budget Sunday with just hours to spare
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to the media about progress on budget negotiations, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Olympia, Wash. Thousands of furlough notices were sent out to state workers in advance of a potential government shutdown on July 1, but Inslee says a budget deal is close. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is set to sign a new state budget with just hours to spare.

Inslee was scheduled to formally adopt the spending plan Sunday afternoon after giving staff time to do a final review of the bill. Much of state government would have to shut down Monday if a new spending plan wasn't formally adopted by the end of the weekend, and thousands of state workers had initially received notification of that possibility.

It's been more than 20 years since a governor signed a budget this late in the process. Lawmakers this year were supposed to complete the spending plan in April but got delayed by a series of disputes over tax, spending and policy proposals. The Legislature adjourned Saturday evening.

Inslee was clearly upset Saturday evening that lawmakers failed to complete a transportation revenue package before leaving Olympia. The House had approved a $10 billion plan that would have relied on an increase in the state gas tax, but the Senate declined to take up the measure Saturday afternoon.

Senate leaders say they plan to work on the issue in the coming months and return to Olympia — perhaps early next year — with a plan.

The final operating budget comes with a price tag of $33.6 billion, with substantial new investments in the K-12 system and higher education. It didn't include much of the new revenue options proposed by Inslee — he had sought to limit or close a variety of tax breaks — but it did save or raise some money by making changes in estate and phone taxes, largely in response to court rulings.

The budget includes some cuts, including another suspension of voter-approved cost-of-living increases for school employees, saving $320 million. Budget writers also booked $30 million in savings from the implementation of lean management practices.

About $500 million of the budget is funded by a variety of transfers, with the largest chunk coming from the state's public works assistance account that helps support local projects — a shift that irked local government leaders.

The plan also creates or extends some tax breaks, benefiting the beekeeper industry, nonprofit gun clubs who purchase clay targets, dance venues and renewable energy.