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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Budget Talks Slow, But Governor Sees Progress

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

Washington’s special session begins next Monday. But at this point it seems unlikely House and Senate budget negotiators will be close to a deal. Governor Jay Inslee said both sides agreed Tuesday on some common assumptions about the next two year budget.

Inslee spoke at the end of a bill signing ceremony. For now he’s measuring progress in these budget negotiations by the week, not the day. A budget is made up of hundreds if not thousands of assumptions about how much something will or won’t cost. How much a cut will or won’t save.

Inslee says getting agreement on those basic numbers will allow for the next phase of negotiations when the parties meet again this Friday. “Now that we have common assumptions that we hope people start to put legitimate, real offers on the table and we’re going to ask both parties to do that.”

One Democratic state senator involved in the negotiations compared them to a steam engine leaving the station. It starts out slow, but then picks up speed. When Washington lawmakers return for the special session they’ll have 30 days on the clock.

Inslee says if the budget isn’t ready for debate, he hopes a proposal to crackdown on drunk drivers will be.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."