OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a new two-year budget, averting a government shutdown that state officials had been planning for in case the new spending plan wasn't in place by the end of the weekend.
The $33.6 billion operating budget was the key item among more than a dozen bills signed by Inslee late Sunday afternoon, just a day after the Legislature adjourned for the year after two overtime legislative sessions.
Inslee said that the budget "will allow the state of Washington to do good things in times of tough challenges."
His signature came just hours before the end of the current budget cycle, and thousands of state workers had been warned last week that they could face temporary layoffs because much of state government would need to shut down if a budget plan wasn't in place by midnight Sunday.
It's been more than 20 years since a governor signed a budget this late in the process. Lawmakers this year were supposed to complete the spending plan in April but got delayed by a series of disputes over tax, spending and policy proposals.
The $3.6 billion capital budget includes money for water management, schools, prisons and one of the largest land purchases in state history.
Budget writers in both parties said Saturday they believe the plan will help create 30,000 to 40,000 jobs.
The most prominent item in the package is the start of a long-term effort to help manage water in the Yakima River Basin. That is a plan that stakeholders have been consider for years and is eventually projected to cost up to $5 billion in the coming decades.
The land purchase is for about 50,000 acres in upper Kittitas County and is valued at about $100 million. Republican Rep. Judy says the land is at the headwaters of the Yakima River Basin and was the perfect opportunity to begin working on water issues in the region.