Senate leaders say Wash. budget deal reached

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Leaders in the Washington state Senate say lawmakers have reached a budget deal to avert a government shutdown.

Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette said in an email obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday that the chamber had reached an agreement with House Democrats. Through a spokeswoman, House Speaker Frank Chopp said there was no deal yet but that lawmakers were close.

Negotiators have been squabbling for weeks over the budget in hopes of reaching a final compromise. Thousands of state employees would be laid off on Monday if lawmakers haven't approved a new spending plan by then.