The final battles, budgets and bills

One of the most persistent rumors circulating through the Capitol is that the Legislature will wrap up its 2007 session Friday – two days earlier than the law ordains.

If true – rumors here change in less time than it takes to read this column – then Democratic lawmakers are mighty confident they can deal with the big bills, big battles and big budgets lying in wait this final week.

Here are a few tangles left for them to unravel before heading home.

Reserve this: Senate Democrats and the Democratic governor want to stash money away in a lock box known as a rainy-day fund and prevent lawmakers from breaking in until the worst emergencies. House Democrats don’t want to do this. Want to bet who wins this point?

Wassup WASL? They’ve been operating on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning all session and the surgery isn’t over. They cut out the graduation requirement for passing the math and science portions. They’ve not put down the scalpel and may remove reading and writing next.

Dueling dollars: Senators and representatives must bridge the gulf between their respective capital budgets. A quick glance finds the House says yes and the Senate says no to aid the Granite Falls Museum, Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center in Everett and senior centers all over.

Road food: With no new projects to fight over it’s come down to these transportation questions: Will rumble strips be placed on U.S. 2? Will an offramp be built to the University of Washington’s Bothell campus?

SnoCo U: Prodded by Commissioner Gregoire, Team Berkey and Team Dunshee are acting less like rivals and more like legislators entering the final weekend. Their shared mission is ensuring no one sneaks up and snags the $4 million promised for a kick start to a new brand of college in Snohomish County.

Homeward bound: Five weeks of paid leave to care for someone you love is where the family leave bill began. A study now and benefits later is where it may end up. Gregoire won’t be upset if it doesn’t reach her desk this year so maybe it won’t.

Not locked up: Democrats and Republicans are at odds on how nice is too nice for criminals. An expensive and expansive idea would increase schooling and job skill training to inmates on the inside in hopes they will become hard-working model citizens when they get out. The jury is still out on this one.

From the corner: And finally, with the clock winding down, Renton faces an improbable though not impossible shot to snare the Sonics. The most dominant player in the game – known simply as “The Governor” – is suited up and ready to step onto the court.

Time is short: The new rumor is the session will end Thursday.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield’s column on politics runs every Sunday. He can be heard at 8 a.m. Monday on “The Morning Show” on KSER (90.7 FM). He can be reached at 360-352-8623 or

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