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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."

State Budget Logjam May Have Broken In Olympia

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

Governor Jay Inslee’s budget director said Friday that negotiators have reached preliminary agreement on a key issue that’s been hanging them up.

This issue was over how much to spend over the next two years.

“The size of the box” is what they call it in the capitol. How big will the state’s next two-year operating budget be. Budget director David Schumacher said nailing down that number is key to finding bipartisan agreement on the details of a spending plan.

After a meeting with the governor and House and Senate budget chairs, Schumacher said it appears that “structural impasse” has been cleared.

“I think that they are now there at the middle where they weren’t a week ago,” he said. “And that leads you on to the next round of difficult things which includes how much do you spend on class size and how much you spend on parks … but that’s a different kind of debate.”

The budget chairs walked past reporters without answering questions, but were seen having an amicable discussion in the Capitol Rotunda.

A final budget deal could still be days away.

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."