OLYMPIA -- Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt predicted Monday that the Legislature will need to call a special session to finish writing a budget.
After a volatile weekend in which three Democrats crossed party lines to help minority Republicans pass a budget written by one of their own -- over the objections of Democratic leaders in the Senate -- Hewitt told the Herald a budget agreement is unlikely before the session is set to end Thursday.
The original bill was based on the budget proposal unveiled by Gov. Chris Gregoire in November, but Republicans proposed a striking amendment Friday that replaced Gregoire's entire proposal with one written by Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield.
The 24 Democrats who opposed the bill cried foul because Zarelli's amendment never had a public hearing, unlike the amendment proposed by Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle and chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
"(This bill) is a dark, backroom, secret document," Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, said during the late-night debate. "We shouldn't be doing this. This is beneath us."
But the Senate passed the budget 25-24 at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, after more than seven hours of arguments.
Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, told the Herald on Monday that the Republicans who wrote the budget took into consideration public testimony on other budgets proposed by the House and Senate.
Delvin said he voted for the bill because it was balanced and moved the conversation forward.
The bill is on its way to the House Ways & Means Committee for consideration.
Neither Reps. Larry Haler, R-Richland, nor Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, had read the Senate budget, but both said Monday that they support it.
Haler told the Herald the cuts to higher education in the Senate budget are minimal, like the House Republican budget proposal that never passed.
"A lot of people are saying that Republicans are being obstructionists right now, but what we were trying to do is stop the continued overspending," he said.
Klippert told the Herald that the Senate budget upholds Republican values -- to fully fund education, protect the vulnerable and provide public safety.
But getting House Democrats to support the bill will not be easy.
"I don't see any movement to adopt the Senate budget," Haler said.
Hewitt, from Walla Walla, said talk about the budget has slowed when it should be wrapping up, and has no doubt there will be a special session.
Klippert said Democrats should bear the blame if a special session is called.
"A special session is absolutely, positively unnecessary," Klippert said. "The need for one shows the inability of the majority party to get things done."
-- Eric Francavilla, a Herald intern from Washington State University, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.