Protests shut down Wash. hearing focused on budget



OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A rowdy protest has led Washington lawmakers to shut down a first committee hearing that was focused on how to deal with the state’s budget woes.

More than a dozen protesters burst into a crowded committee room Monday afternoon and began chanting in opposition of deep cuts. They shouted in favor of taxing the wealthy.

Security escorted one of the protesters out while some continued yelling and others banged on doors outside of the room. Lawmakers eventually suspended the hearing, citing concerns from the fire marshal.

The panel was scheduled to begin considering Gov. Chris Gregoire’s plan to address the state’s $1.4 billion shortfall. Gregoire’s proposed budget calls for close to $2 billion in cuts, reductions to local governments and fund transfers, leaving $600 million in the bank.