OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Leaders in the Washington state Senate say lawmakers have reached a budget deal to avert a government shutdown. Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette said in an email obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday that the chamber had reached an agreement with House Democrats. Through a spokeswoman, House Speaker Frank Chopp said there was no deal yet but that lawmakers were close. Negotiators have been squabbling for weeks over the budget in hopes of reaching a final compromise. Thousands of state employees would be laid off on Monday if lawmakers haven't approved a new spending plan by then.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Lawmakers seeking to avert a government shutdown have been sidetracked in their negotiations by a dispute over how much fish Washington residents consume. Gov. Jay Inslee's budget director said Wednesday that the House and Senate have spent much of their time in recent days discussing whether to pay for a study into the fish consumption issue. The state has been exploring new water quality standards that are influenced by how much fish Washington residents eat, but the Senate has proposed a larger study that could delay the rulemaking process. Budget director David Schumacher says the issue has taken time and attention over the last couple days. Schumacher says he's disappointed lawmakers haven't completed the budget but says negotiators are close to a final solution.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)