Just one week left for state lawmakers to pass a budget ... or government shuts down

OLYMPIA -- Just one week is left for state lawmakers to end their budget standoff before Washington’s first government shutdown.

Furlough notices went out Tuesday to tens of thousands of state workers.  They will be temporarily furloughed starting Wednesday, July 1, if the budget impasse continues.

Many Washington citizens will feel the effects of a shutdown as well, including the closing of all state parks starting July 1 for recreation and camping.

While the possibility of a shutdown is as real as ever, the two sides, which have been at odds over new taxes, are getting closer to a deal.  Call it a concession, or call it an 11th-hour cave, Democrats have abandoned their push for a new capital gains tax on the wealthy.  That’s a big change.

Republicans fought this multibillion-dollar idea ever since it was floated last year by Gov. Jay Inslee.  They argue that the state, which has more money because of the economic recovery, can live within its means.

But a continued sticking point is that Democrats still want to end some tax exemptions worth about $350 million.

These are some of the “loopholes” that are in the cross-hairs:

2015-2017 Tax Exemptions

    Democrats want to use the money from ending these tax exemptions to increase funding for education.

    “It is important to acknowledge that many of these tax preferences struggle to justify a return on investment that is greater than the investment in early learning and other public education investments,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle. “It’s an opportunity cost.”

    But whether Democrats will succeed in their final, last hope for increased revenue has yet to be seen since the GOP has pushed back against changes to the tax code as well.