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December 8, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Gregoire gives up on lawmakers solving $2 billion shortfall this month

Posted by Andrew Garber

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday acknowledged what state lawmakers have been saying for weeks - "they can't get there by the end of this special session."

Gregoire had been insistent that the Legislature pass a budget that closed a $2 billion shortfall, and send voters a tax package, within the 30-day special session that started Nov. 28.

The governor said lawmakers have convinced her that won't happen. The Legislature has gotten "wrapped around the axle," she said.

There are some lawmakers who won't consider cutting the budget without new revenue, others who won't consider revenue without cuts and still others who want "reforms" before anything is done.

"It's just never ending," Gregoire said in a phone interview Thursday evening.

"Would I like to see a budget on my desk by the end of December, absolutely," she said. "Am I going to get my wish for Christmas. No I'm not."

Gregoire said there is progress being made on making some budget cuts before the Legislature wraps up the special session.

And she contends it was still worth holding a special session even if they don't pass a full budget now because it will give lawmakers a head start in the regular session next year.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Ed Murray, D-Seattle, made similar comments earlier in the day.

"Do we do the reforms people want to see? Do we write a balanced budget? Do we get revenue on the ballot and do we do it ... in the January, February time-frame? That ultimately is the standard I think we should be held to," he said.

Not all lawmakers are happy with that approach.

"We came here to solve a very serious budget problem. We've been in session 11 days and the closest we've come to solving the problem is the possibility of a partial solution, " said House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. "If the Legislature was earning a grade for its performance on the special session, I would give it an 'F'."

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