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Eye On Olympia

Mon., March 10, 2008, 4:35 p.m.

Budget deal details trickling out…

The House and Senate have just about agreed on a final budget deal, key lawmakers say.

Some of the main points:

How much to leave in state savings: For months Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative budget writers have been weighing how much to leave in savings this year. Gregoire in December called for $1.2 billion, then amended that down to $900 million after a bleak revenue forecast in mid-February. Lawmakers, who had a longer list of priorities, said $750 million would be enough.

Where it landed: "It's north of $820 (million) and south of $900 (million)," said Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam.

Teacher pay : Under a voter-approved initiative, teachers are automatically slated to get a 3.9 percent cost-of-living increase this year. The House wanted to add 1 percent to that as a catch-up for two years when lawmakers suspended the initiative due to a huge budget deficit. The Senate said it would like to do the same, but couldn't afford it right now.

Where they landed: The Associated Press and another lawmaker say the House and Senate split the difference: half a percent more, in addition to the 3.9 percent. Kessler wouldn't confirm that exactly, but said "we'll probably be somewhere around" that amount.




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