SAN FRANCISCO — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire planned to sign a bill Tuesday that would resolve about one-quarter of the state's $2 billion budget deficit.
The governor scheduled action on the bipartisan bill, which she has already praised, for Tuesday afternoon.
The Legislature passed the bill last week during an emergency session, enacting $480 million of cuts to the state's current two-year budget.
The governor called the special session to address projected revenue shortfalls that are expected to leave the fiscal 2011-13 budget $1.4 billion short. She also wants to retain $600 million in reserves.
"Facing a $2 billion deficit, state lawmakers had a formidable challenge heading into this special session. The Legislature has been working in a bipartisan fashion to approve a package that provides a downpayment toward closing our budget hole," Gregoire said in a statement. "For that, I thank them."
Lawmakers are expected to return next year and begin tackling the rest of the deficit. In May, lawmakers passed the two-year budget that closed a projected $4.9 billion deficit in a $32 billion budget.
The latest cuts would mainly come from more than $300 million worth of spending reductions to different departments, including public schools and health services. Another $106 million would come from agencies' unspent funds and transfers from other accounts.
Earlier this month, the state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said revenues came in 1.2% higher than expected during the collection period from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10, mainly because of timing. It said it expected the local economy to continue to "muddle through" but outperform the national economy.
Washington has double-A-plus ratings across the board, which were affirmed by credit agencies in the fall during a state general obligation bond sale, despite sliding revenues.