Washington House approves revised budget plan

Washington House approves revised budget plan
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The state House approved a revised budget plan Thursday night, advancing the new spending plan even though it still lacks support in the state Senate.

With lawmakers entering the final days of a special session, the House voted 53-35 to approve the budget. Republicans in the chamber praised budget writers for dropping a proposed business tax extension but still expressed concern about how the measure was structured.

Democratic Rep. Ross Hunter said the budget moves toward the Senate's position on some items and the House felt it was time to get the budget process started, since time is running out on the special session. Hunter said that while the budget was not his ideal proposal, he said it makes a substantial investment in the state's education system.

"This budget is a strong budget," Hunter said.

House leaders are still looking to add more money to the state's education system with a separate bill that would close some tax preferences. Republicans, however, complained that the education money should be in the main budget bill and that the taxes should be tied to other parts of state spending.

The House and Senate have been locked in weeks of fruitless budget negotiations. Senators have expressed concern about the House plan but also say the two sides are making progress.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said earlier in the day that his chamber had sent over a revised budget proposal for House leaders to consider. He declined to discuss details but said both sides were starting to come together.

"I think both sides are negotiating in good faith and we're making progress," Tom said.