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Washington state Legislature heads to special session, starting May 13
The Washington State Legislature will begin its sixth special session in the past three years when lawmakers return to Olympia on May 13.
As has been the case in recent years, the biggest fight will continue to be the state budget. The House of Representatives and the Senate produced budgets considered to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum, although both address some of the pressing needs of the state, including the all important fight over education funding.
Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed budget falls somewhere in between the two. Regardless, Inslee said he thinks the budget battle could end up being protracted in this special session.
"I will tell you, the parties are not miles apart at the moment. They are light years apart," Inslee said at an April 29 press conference at which he announced the special session. "And we have a lot of work to do to get people to move to where we will need to reach a consensus here."
The House and Senate budgets began the long project of "fully funding" education by 2018 as handed down from the State Supreme Court's decision in the McCleary case. Each appropriated approximately $1 billion or more for education funding.
The House budget has been criticized because it makes this "down payment" on McCleary by closing tax exemptions on a variety of businesses and products in the state and pulls from the state's "rainy day" fund.
The Senate budget was blasted by Inslee and others because it begins the process of funding education by freeing up money with the elimination of various programs and agencies that serve underprivileged adults and children.