Top budget negotiators in Olympia say Washington lawmakers have been in discussions to make $400 million in budget cuts this week as a preliminary fix to the state’s $1.4 billion shortfall.
Republican Rep. Gary Alexander said he was reviewing a proposal from his Democratic counterparts, seeking revisions and additions to reach as much as $500 million in savings. Lawmakers said they are optimistic the measure will pass this week because it reserves more contentious issues for discussion later.
House members were scheduled to take up the legislation Monday afternoon. Leaders declined to discuss specific details but said it was focused more on broader administrative reductions for state agencies than specific program eliminations.
The Legislature is seeking to make some cuts in December before returning for the regular session in January.
Lawmakers are seeking to eventually find $2 billion in cuts to fix the shortfall and have a $600 million buffer.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed getting there through a combination of cuts, fund transfers and delayed payments. The cuts would include shortening the school year by four days, eliminating some social programs and releasing prisoners early. She has separately proposed that voters approve a temporary increase in the sales tax to offset some of the cuts. (AP)