The stage is set but the actors are not playing their roles. House democrats and Senate republicans have approved their separate budgets, now the only thing to do is negotiate the differences. Normally, with 11 days left before the end of session, Budget negotiators meet and trade issues based upon the relative importance of the issue to their party. This winnowing process results in a final budget. That’s not happening this year because the Senate has refused to meet until after the House has approved the tax increases necessary to fund the House’s budget (roughly $3 billion in new taxes). As of today, House democrats have refused to vote on the tax increases necessary to fund their budget.
So there is the first reason for the breakdown. And if you think that is a big problem the next one is even bigger: the Budgets they have approved are as different as “apples to zucchinis”. Normally, budgets are different, but the differences are so big it is difficult to imagine how they are going to cobble together an agreement. The popular expectation here in Olympia is that the only thing that is going to force them to agreement is the June 30 deadline (after that date, the government doesn’t have any money to operate).
Over the next several blog entries, I am going to break apart the major issues, one issue at a time, that are the heart of the “apples to zucchini” budgets.