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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."

Government Shutdown Looms As Washington Lawmakers Head For Third Special Session

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Austin Jenkins
/
Northwest News Network
House budget chair Timm Ormsby, second from left, and Senate budget chair John Braun, on right, say they are working to get a budget deal by June 30th to avoid a government shutdown.

The state of Washington is 10 days from a government shutdown as lawmakers head into a third overtime session with still no budget deal.

This is the point when even veteran Olympia insiders start to get nervous. Time is nearly out for House Democrats and Senate Republicans to bust through their months-old impasse over the budget and school funding.

The question to both sides now: do you have a backup plan?

“Of course we have a back-up plan,”Senate budget chair John Braun said. “We always have a backup plan, but that’s not what we should be focused on. We should be focused on getting the job done on June 30th.”

House budget chair Timm Ormbsy stuck with that theme.

“Our sole focus is to get the biennial budget done by the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

If they don’t, then Ormbsy said all options should be on the table to avoid a government shutdown. But Gov. Jay Inslee has indicated he will not sign a 30-day stop-gap budget.

If there is a government shutdown more than 30,000 state employees will be sent home, state parks will close and many other state functions will be suspended.

Budget writers did get a bit of help on Tuesday. The latest state revenue forecast shows Washington is projected to take in an additional $80 million over the next two years.

“It doesn’t solve all our challenges, but it doesn’t hurt them either,” Braun said.

This is the third time since 2013 that Washington lawmakers have been unable to agree on a budget forcing a third special session.