Budget deal 'imminent,' but thousands get furlough notices

by: Essex Porter Updated:

OLYMPIA, Wash. - As thousands of state workers get furlough notices, word from the governor was that lawmakers are close to averting a state government shutdown on July 1st.

The state can't spend money unless the legislature approves a budget by then.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and the Republican dominated Senate have battled for weeks over spending priorities leading to two special sessions of the legislature.

But on Monday, all sides said the logjam was breaking. "The current status of negotiations gives confidence that agreement is imminent," said Democratic Governor Jay Inslee at a news conference Monday afternoon.

But because there have been no votes on a budget, and union contracts call for a week's notice of furloughs, Inslee ordered the notices emailed at the same time he was hailing progress he believes will lead to a budget before the shutdown deadline.

"The moment that I sign the bill, we will be able to immediately notify state employees to be on their assigned posts on July 1st, and I hope that's going to happen very shortly," the governor said.

But it was a mixed message for 15-year state veteran Thornton Alberg. “I don't know, don't believe it. I want to believe that it will be done quickly, but don't think that it should go this far."