Still no budget deal as state shutdown looms

OLYMPIA — The deal is imminent.

capitolThat has been the word out of Olympia the past several days.

There is still no budget deal, and now the governor’s office is now laying out plans for a state shutdown.

“We are surprised we have gotten to this point in the journey and we were hopeful we would not have to have the conversation,” said Mary Alice Heuschel, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff.

It’s a conversation no one wants — about what will happen if the state has to shut down on Monday, July 1.

About 25,000 state employees will be furloughed, state parks will close, and millions of residents — including Medicaid patients — will lose state services.

“DSHS will also have to notify tens of thousands of vulnerable adults, children, and the elderly that their services will not be available as of July 1,” Heuschel said.

The only thing that will avoid the shutdown is a budget deal, and, on Wednesday, there were conflicting reports all day from both sides of the aisle.

Around noon, state Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, sent out an e-mail claiming the Senate and House had reached an agreement on the $33 billion budget.

That was immediately shot down, as David Postman, the governor’s spokesman, proclaimed, “There’s not a budget agreement, and I don’t know why that announcement came out when it did.”

There appears to be plenty of agreement on the state funding plan, which includes $1 billion for schools, but there is still debate over a few, smaller details that are holding up the handshake.

“The broad framework of a deal is in place,” said state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the House budget negotiator. “We have made meaningful and substantial progress, but we simply are not yet complete.”

If they don’t get there by midnight Sunday, there will be a lot of pain felt throughout the state, and the governor’s office is now preparing for it.

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