Gregoire says session was most difficult in memory

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Gregoire says this year's legislative session was the most difficult in recent memory.

The Democratic governor praised state employees, teachers and retirees Wednesday night for sharing in the sacrifice. She said the budget approved by lawmakers manages to handle a $5.1 billion budget shortfall without budget gimmicks, and she said it will make government leaner and more efficient.

Gregoire says the session brought a new spirit of bipartisanship and that state leaders will walk away from it with a stronger sense of cooperation.

Lawmakers from both parties praised Gregoire for mediating negotiations that led to a series of compromises.