Josh has been down in Olympia today covering the opening of the special legislative session in Olympia, where legislators are working to close a $1.5 billion budget gap. Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed an all-cuts budget that saves $2 billion (with $500 million of that going into reserve funds) by slashing education, health care for the poor, human services, and corrections.

Protesters affiliated with unions, state universities and colleges, and the Occupy movement showed up in force to oppose both Gregoire's all-cuts budget and her proposed half-cent state sales tax, which would allow the state to "buy back" about $500 million of the cuts.

Here are some images from today's protests; all photos by Josh Feit.



Wendy Steele, a teacher from Port Angeles, came to Olympia with the Washington Education Association, the state teachers' union, to protest cuts to K-12 education. Asked what they thought of the Occupy movement, who dominated the day with raucous chants that echoed through the rotunda and brought much of the day's proceedings to a halt, Steele's group gave a thumbs up.



Late in a long day of organized protests in Olympia this afternoon, students came out to oppose cuts to higher education.



Earlier in the day, Occupy protesters were removed from the House gallery, where the group did a mic check expressing their appreciation for the police, who they consider part of the 99 percent.



Union members and Occupy Olympia protesters gather on the Capitol steps this morning.



Musicians entertain the crowd of several hundred protesters.
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