Gregoire, lawmakers strain for final agreement

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Gregoire and top lawmakers are laboring for a final agreement that would end months of stagnation in the state Legislature.

Lawmakers met with the governor for hours throughout the afternoon and into the evening Monday, just a day before the end of the latest special session in Olympia. Top negotiators brought some of the ideas back to their caucuses around 7 p.m., but Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis said no deal had been reached.

They were set to continue the meeting later Monday night.

Monday's flurry of meeting caps months of fruitless negotiations over how to close a roughly half-billion-dollar shortfall for the two-year budget cycle ending June 2013. A Republican-led coalition in the Senate will not take up the budget until lawmakers approve a series of policy changes in state government.