Legislature seeks to finalize budget this weekend

Mike Baker, Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The state's political leaders struggled to finalize a budget deal Friday but continued to express optimism that they would soon agree on a spending plan and avoid a government shutdown.

Gov. Jay Inslee said he is looking to call lawmakers in for joint negotiations Saturday morning, with plans to work steadily through the weekend. He said many items remain unresolved and state officials were continuing with plans for parts of government that would shut down if no agreement comes together over the next week.

"This is absolutely the last thing I want to see happen, and I'm doing all I can to help legislators reach agreement as soon as possible," Inslee said. The earliest that any floor votes were expected was Sunday.

Washington state's budget cycle begins July 1, and negotiators have struggled to agree on how the state will spend its money over the coming two years. The state believes 34 agencies will have to completely shut down if there is no budget deal, 24 would face partial shutdowns and 25 would remain open.

Budget leaders have said in recent days that they are continuing to draw closer together, and some had expressed hope of completing an agreement Friday.

Lawmakers have been aided by improvements in the economy, which boosted the state's revenue outlook. The 2013-15 budget is now expected to bring in $32.66 billion, an increase of about $2 billion from the current budget.