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With clock ticking, state lawmakers still in budget talks

Wed, Mar 12, 2014
OLYMPIA — House and Senate leaders put the finishing touches Wednesday on a supplemental budget agreement that will reportedly inject more money into public schools but make teachers wait at least another year for a state-funded pay hike.

House and Senate budget writers negotiated all the previous night and much of the day to resolve their differences on what changes to make in state spending through the middle of next year.

While they remained tight-lipped, several lawmakers and lobbyists late Wednesday said that a 1.2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for teachers and other public-school employees did not make it into the final agreement. Details of the deal were expected to be released Thursday morning.
Negotiators were finishing their work in the nick of time. The 60-day session of the Legislature is to end Thursday night at midnight.

The absence of a budget agreement was the one thing capable of pushing lawmakers into a special session, something members did not want after holding three additional sessions last year.
Now 147 citizen legislators can tackle a final batch of chores, including trying to end disputes between the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-run Senate on several bills.

"It's fascinating," said freshman Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett. "We're down to a finite number of big votes we're going to take. It's just amazing to watch the whole process twist and turn and unfold."
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