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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 Special Session Starts With No Budget Deal

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  The Washington legislature reconvenes Monday for a 30-day special session. But there’s still no budget deal in sight – despite a two week break to negotiate.

Senate budget chair Andy Hill, a Republican, says both sides are “working in good faith.” But “true negotiations” have yet to begin. That’s because the House, Senate and governor are still working to agree on the basic assumptions for the next two year budget.

Once that happens Hill says a deal could come together quickly. But there’s still a major roadblock: a dispute between the two chambers over whether to close some tax exemptions and extend an expiring tax.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen, a Democrat, presides over the Senate. He believes the Senate leadership will ultimately have to let some of its members join with minority Democrats to vote for taxes. “At some point you have to say what’s in the best interests of the state moving forward and release the members to do what they need to do to get us out of there which means you’ll have crossover.”

Senator Hill, the Republican budget chair, responds that there are creative ways to bridge the gaps that don’t involve defaulting to taxes.

On the Web:

Video: Interview with Lt. Gov. Brad Owen - TVW

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."