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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Monday, March 5, 2012, 3:23 p.m.

Democrats don't have budget deal to offer GOP

b>Updated at 3:15 p.m.

Turns out Democrats in the House and Senate have not reached any budget deals as I reported earlier.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, whom I attributed the information, told me that I missed a nuance in his comments.

“I said ‘I think' we have an agreement,” he told me this afternoon.

Moments before speaking with him, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said, “Agreement is definitely too strong a word.”

He said there was a “good conversation about how we move forward” on Sunday involving leaders of the two caucuses. There was no resolution on the issues that are different between the House-passed budget and the one written by Murray.

Meanwhile, Murray did say he had sent along some ideas to Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, who is the architect of the GOP budget.

Zarelli said it was mostly a list of bills and policies related the budget. There was no mention of the matter that is the stumbling block between the parties: the Democrats desire to delay a $330 million apportionment payment to schools. Zarelli said that item is a nonstarter for those supporting the budget passed by the Senate Saturday.

Original item:




House and Senate Democrats have reached agreement on a proposed budget and intend to share elements of their “hybrid” proposal to Republicans later today, according to the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the accord reached by Democrats over the weekend “makes moves” in the direction of the Republican-crafted budget passed on a 25-24 vote in the Senate early Saturday.

Murray described it as having the support of the “24 of us” and the House Democratic caucus. He said he hopes it restarts a conversation on a bipartisan solution to the state's budget problems.

“I'm working on making them offers that would get us out in the regular session. This works if there's compromise. We'll make some moves. We'll send some ideas to them showing some movement in their direction but they also have to show some movement in our direction,” he said. “If they're just going to shove their ideas down our throat as they did on Friday night then that's not compromise. This place does not work without compromise.”

If there's not a response, he'll hope its content will be enough to convince one of the two Democrats who jumped to the Republican ship – Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina or Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup -- to jump back.

Murray's comments are the first sign Democrats will make an overture to Senate Republicans. And they should be welcomed by Republicans whose leaders this morning were still waiting for some indication Democrats would acknowledge their budget.

As of 11 a.m. today, Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, the architect of the GOP spending plan, said he had spoken with Murray and the chief House budget writer, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, but they were not substantive talks.

He figured “there's no way we get done by Thursday."

“The Speaker and the leader over here are in a mode right now…where I think their strategy is just to hold out the rest of the session and see if they can get 25 votes to do it their way,” he said. “The goal is that the Speaker and the majority leader over here have to agree to disagree and move forward. To me that's how you get this done.”

He said if he, Murray and Hunter sat down “we could work out the differences. But the way things are run here, that's not how things are run.”
Story tags » GovernmentStateGovernorLegislaturePoliticsDemocratic PartyRepublican Party

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