Saturday, December 20, 2014

Washington state is now just one week away from a government shutdown. Legislators from both parties said Sunday they were still searching for a final budget compromise that would avert government closure. Republican Rep. Gary Alexander said he expected a deal would come together by the end of day, with hopes of passing the budget by the middle of the week.

The state's current two-year budget comes to a close at the end of June, and government leaders have determined that many agencies will have to cease operations if there is no new spending plan.

Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle said negotiators are making consistent and meaningful progress but that they are still lacking agreement on some "central" policy and financial issues.  As lawmakers debate how to put up to $1 billion more into public schools, Republicans in the Senate want to make sure that money doesn't support pay raises for teachers.

The Daily Herald reports Democrats in the House oppose the bill, which has already been approved by the Senate. The measure would push most new education dollars toward teacher training and hiring new teachers to improve the reading skills and academic performance of students.

One part of the bill would prevent school districts from giving raises greater than the rate of inflation for the next two years.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Steve Litzow says the goal is to get results and Republicans will be watching closely.

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