by: RACHEL LA CORTE Updated:
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a new two-year budget, averting a government shutdown that state officials had been planning for in case the new spending plan wasn't in place by the end of the weekend.
The $33.6 billion operating budget was the key item among more than a dozen bills signed by Inslee late Sunday afternoon, just a day after the Legislature adjourned for the year after two overtime legislative sessions.
Inslee said that the budget "will allow the state of Washington to do good things in times of tough challenges."
His signature came just hours before the end of the current budget cycle, and thousands of state workers had been warned last week that they could face temporary layoffs because much of state government would need to shut down if a budget plan wasn't in place by midnight Sunday.
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.