8/27/2014

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Inslee wants Legislature to come back May 13

Inslee wants Legislature to come back May 13
If it was easy, the legislators wouldn't be coming back for a special session.

But it's been far from easy as lawmakers adjourned their 105-day session without an agreement on a new two-year budget.

"We are close on some issues, we're far apart on others," said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle democrat who is the House Finance Committee Chairman.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said he wants lawmakers to come back May 13, giving them time to work on some negotiations in the meantime.

"The parties are not miles apart at the moment, they are light years apart at the moment," Inslee said

One of the biggest divides is how to pay for public education.

The state Supreme Court ruled in last year's McCleary case, that the Legislature was not adequately funding schools.

Democrats who control the House propose doing it by extending taxes and eliminating tax breaks.

The Republican-controlled Senate insists that's a deal-breaker.

"We have a partisan budget from the House that says we need well over a billion dollars of taxes to fund McCleary," Sen. Mark Schoesler, the republican majority leader said. "Those are competing philosophies that haven't been resolved."

Schoesler of Ritzville said earlier in the day he wanted lawmakers to be called back immediately to keep the pressure on to find agreement. "I think people function better with deadlines," he said.

The House and governor still hope for major legislation on tougher DUI laws for repeat offenders and gun control--and making sure health insurance plans pay for abortions.

Democrats accuse the Senate of causing most of the gridlock.

"They're so intoxicated with the enthusiasm of being in the majority for the first time in a number of years they're letting some of they're really more extreme ideological members to drive the conversation," Carlyle said.

The House and Senate did reach agreement on a near $9 billion transportation plan to fix roads and bridges, and pay for projects across the state.

Democrats have a 55-43 majority in the House. The Senate is controlled by a coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats.

Negotiations have continued throughout the week, but Senate Republican budget writer Andy Hill told TVW Sunday that the current situation is one where "the budgets are very far apart" and that the votes do not exist in the Senate to raise taxes.

Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray of Seattle said that he's been frustrated by the majority's seeming resistance to negotiate on the topic of increasing revenue.

"There has to be some willingness to compromise," Murray said.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said that he believed lawmakers would be able to finish their work within one special session, but said he knows it will be a tough negotiation.

"I said from Day 1 said that I thought this was going to be one of the toughest budgets we'd have to put together," Sullivan said "We'll have to come together. It's somewhere in the middle, we all know that, it's just a matter of getting there."
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