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March 18, 2010 at 2:45 PM

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Gregoire scolds Legislature: Wrap it up by Sunday

Posted by Jim Brunner

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire scolded fellow Democrats in the Legislature Thursday afternoon, saying lawmakers need to finish their work and go home by Sunday.

Asked about progress of the ongoing special session, Gregoire paused for several seconds, and then expressed her "frustration" with the pace of the legislative overtime.

"We've got to get out no later than Sunday... the talk about going another week to me is inexcusable," Gregoire said.

In calling the special session, which started Monday, Gregoire said she wanted it wrapped up in a week and limited solely to finishing the budget and a jobs bill.

Technically, lawmakers can go up to 30 days and pass anything they want.

But Gregoire warned them not to bother with non-essential bills: "Don't bring it to my desk because it isn't going to get past my desk."

Tax increases remain a big sticking point.

The Senate wants a three-tenths of a penny sales tax, while the House has been firmly opposed to it, preferring a menu of other taxes on specific businesses.

Gregoire repeated her strong opposition to a sales tax, saying it could hurt the construction industry already reeling from a building slowdown. She said economists have warned her about imposing taxes that could create a "double dip" recession.

Yet Gregoire refused to say whether she'd use a veto threat on a sales tax to move negotiations along.

Gregoire said she has made no veto threats except to say "Dadgummit, get it done."

Because "nerves are frayed," Gregoire said such a veto threat might have the opposite effect -- making it harder to finish the special session.

There have been some rumblings of progress on the budget. The Senate is expected to pass a tax package either later today (Thursday) or Friday.

Democrats control both the House and Senate, and governor's office. This is the first time since 1994 that a special session has been needed with one party in control of the Capitol.

The governor made her comments during a news conference at the Port of Olympia about a new tally saying there are now 100,000 "green" jobs in the state. You can read the report here.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.