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Government and Politics
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."

Do-Or-Die Week For Washington Lawmakers As Government Shutdown Looms

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Washington Governor Jay Inslee says eliminating $300 million to $350 million in tax exemptions over the next two years would represent a ''middle ground'' in the budget fight between House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

Washington lawmakers have until the 30-day special session runs out on June 27 to reach a budget deal. If they fail to do so, a partial government shutdown would begin on July 1.

House Democrats and Senate Republicans have been struggling since March to find agreement on an operating budget for the next two years. They started out about $1 billion apart and have narrowed that gap considerably.

Democrats said they’ve moved the most after backing down from a $1.5 billion tax package. Republicans responded that Democrats had the most to give because they were asking for much more. But bridging the final gap has remained elusive and taxes have remained a sticking point.

On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee called for the elimination of $300 million to $350 million in tax exemptions over the next two years.

“We need to understand that both sides have proposed additional spending in different places and for them to both be able to have additional spending it will necessitate some relatively modest revenues,” Inslee said.

Senate Republican budget chair Andy Hill appeared to be open to the idea.“We’ve always said we should be looking at our tax exemptions,” he said.