Agreement reached on state budget to avert government shutdown

by: Essex Porter Updated:

House and Senate leaders at his side, Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that there an agreement on a state budget, and that it will pass in time to avert a government shutdown scheduled for Monday.

"We will be notifying all state employees to be at work on Monday, July 1st," saidInslee before news cameras gathered in the governor's conference room.

The two-year budget calls for $33.6 billion in spending, including an additional billion dollars for K-12 education required by a state Supreme Court decision.

"It's really going to move the needle and improve student learning especially for our kids who are struggling," said Andy Hill (R) – Redmond, chair of the Ways and Means Committee in the Republican-dominated Senate.

One big sticking point was how to spend $480 million dollars in new revenue created largely by the recovering economy and closing an estate tax loophole. Republicans wanted to spend 100 percent on classroom education, but compromised with Democrats who wanted to spend some on social services for seniors and children.

"We were able to do this in a way that preserved benefits for senior citizens, preserved the ability for our kids who are homeless to have a fair shake," said Inslee.

The budget agreement also ensures no tuition increases for colleges and universities for the next two years.

There are no general tax increases, but owners of land-line telephones will pay an additional 95 cents a month. The new tax brings them to parity with wireless phone customers and avoids a potentially expensive lawsuit.

While the agreement is described as"fragile," both houses are expected to pass it for the governor's signature by the end of the day on Friday.

"This will pass," said Inslee.