Wash. agencies prep for possible shutdown if budget talks fail

Wash. agencies prep for possible shutdown if budget talks fail

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state agencies are working to identify which areas of government may need to cease operations if the Legislature fails to pass a budget over the next 18 days.

Gov. Jay Inslee held a cabinet meeting Wednesday night to discuss plans for what would happen after June 30, when the current budget cycle comes to an end. Lawmakers are squabbling over to spend government dollars over the next two years and have made little progress toward a resolution in recent weeks.

Inslee's budget director, David Schumacher, wants agency leaders to identify which of their services do not require a budget appropriation and which parts are a matter of immediate public safety.

"Many important programs and services will cease absent timely legislative appropriations," Schumacher said.

Lawmakers have already blown past many of their earlier deadlines, failing to complete a budget during a 105-day regular session. Tuesday was the end of a 30-day special session in which the House and Senate made some progress toward each other but still remain far apart.

At the center of the stalemate are disputes over taxes and policy overhauls. The House, controlled by Democrats, has pushed to limit some tax preferences in order to raise more money. Senate leaders, controlled by Republicans and two conservative Democrats, have balked at new revenue, arguing that the government needs to live within its means.

Meanwhile, the Senate is also pushing policy changes, such as the expansion of the use of settlements in the workers' compensation system and a bill that would limit the growth of non-education spending in future budgets.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.