Gregoire pushes for compromise on state budget

Bbudget: Governor says it’s an all-in-one proposal

MIKE BAKER; The Associated PressMarch 30, 2012 

OLYMPIA – Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said Thursday she is now pushing a compromise budget plan that would encapsulate many of the Legislature’s contentious proposals into one package.

Gregoire said there are six major issues still at play, including proposals to raise taxes. She declined to say what her package would look like but said negotiators have to get away from working through each issue one at a time.

The Democrat said all sides see progress, but that it wasn’t clear how long it would be before a deal could be struck.

“In the next 48 hours, we could have an agreement,” Gregoire said. “In the next 48 hours, it could fall apart.”

Republicans have pushed ideas such as the elimination of early retirement for state workers. Democrats have proposed delaying a payment for schools.

Lawmakers are trying to close a roughly half-billion dollar shortfall for the two-year budget cycle ending June 2013.

Gregoire moved ahead Thursday with the signing of more than 100 other bills. She had previously threatened to veto bills if lawmakers could not reach a budget deal but said Thursday she thought enough progress had been made.

Gregoire said it was “abhorrent” that some people were suggesting another special session might be needed.

Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner said his colleagues still want to see the pension changes and other overhauls, but he said the party was flexible and open to accepting other ideas as part of a larger compromise, including the possibility of higher taxes.

“I think we can get a bipartisan coalition for that,” Baumgartner.

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