Lawmakers 'frantic' to get budget, taxes passed by Thursday

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on March 8, 2010 at 6:39 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The clock is ticking for lawmakers. The 60-day legislative session ends Thursday at midnight.

At least it's supposed to.

Democrats have to finalize a budget and tax proposal based on the versions passed in the House and Senate.

"It's probably going to be pretty frenzied and frantic," said Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton.

"This is the most intense part of any session," said Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam.

Lawmakers have to reconcile differences in the two budgets. For example, the Senate calls for shutting down the state prison at McNeil Island. The House budget only cuts the prison population in half.

Sorting out the budget may be easier than finalizing a tax proposal. While both versions call for ending tax loopholes and exemptions, the Senate also voted to increase the state sales tax by 0.3 percent. The House instead chose to eliminate the sales tax exemption on items like candy, gum, bottled water and elective plastic surgery.

The Governor has said she prefers the Senate's budget and the House's tax package.

If the budget and tax plan are not finalized by Thursday at midnight, lawmakers would go into a special session. Those cost taxpayers an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 a day.
 

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