Gov. Jay Inslee has announced a press conference for 2:30, which has sparked speculation that a long-awaited budget deal is imminent.

However, sources say it's not a done deal and anything could happened in the next hour.

My usual sources have gone quiet today (a good sign?), so I'm relying on second-hand sources right now.

With pink slips and a government shutdown looming (the current budget expires on July 1), here's what it reportedly all comes down to.With temporary pink slips cued up to go out to an estimated 26,000 state employees this afternoon and a government shutdown looming (the current budget expires on July 1), here's what it reportedly all comes down to: Whether or not the Republican-dominated senate Majority Coalition Caucus agrees to close a $109 million telecom industry loophole that has allowed land line operators to avoid paying a tax that cellular operators have had to pay. (Sprint sued the state and forced a settlement and the state is worried if the loophole isn't fixed, more suits from the likes of Comcast are on the way.)

The house Republicans signed off on the bill (twice) in two convincing bipartisan votes earlier this session (one in the regular session and one in the first special session—74-22 and 74-18). In fact, Republican Rep. Terry Nealey (R-15, Dayton) joined Democratic house finance chair Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) as the prime co-sponsor. But the senate Republicans have tabled it all year.

The Democrats are reportedly adamant about closing the loophole as part of the budget without trading for non-budget items, such as the MCC's priority policy bill, a business-friendly change to workers' comp rules. (The workers' comp bill has reportedly been moved into separate discussions as a trade for the Democrats' gas tax-funded $8.4 billion transportation package.)

The question is: Will the MCC negotiators, while adamant themselves about not increasing taxes (closing the telcom loophole could be read as raising taxes), sign off on the telcom legislation, which is reportedly supported by the industry. (I've called the main telcom lobbyists in Olympia, but haven't heard back.)

And if not, and the Democrats are willing to shoot the hostage, will Gov. Inslee announce at 2:30 today that there's no deal? (Government agencies have already been told that they need to start sending out temporary layoff notices today.)

Either way, it'll be a definite Jolt.


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