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Tentative budget deal reached, but debt leaves Legislature’s exit uncertain

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on May 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
May 23, 2011 2:00 pm

Budget negotiators have a tentative deal but aren’t saying what’s in it.

The contents of the roughly $32 billion, two-year state spending plan will become public tomorrow morning, House Democrats said. First, negotiators have to brief both parties in both House and Senate.

Deals on the operating budget and a worker’s-compensation overhaul don’t mean lawmakers have a clear path to the finish line. Speculation is still rampant that adjournment on Wednesday as scheduled is in doubt, and an extra day or two will be needed.

That’s partly because there’s no progress on a constitutional amendment to limit state debt. Senate Democrats and Republicans support it, while House Democrats oppose it. A meeting is scheduled for this afternoon in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office to hash it out.

Her office proved to be the place where the intractable problem of worker’s comp found resolution — in other words, where House Democrats threw their support behind a version of something they had previously lined up against. Will it happen a second time?

If not, the disagreement may kill the chances for up to $1.4 billion in bonds for local projects, and also might just throw a wrench into that budget deal.

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