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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Final Deal On School Funding In Washington Could Be Months Away

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Washington state’s 105-day legislative session is almost at the halfway point. But a final, bipartisan deal on school funding could still be months away.

The Washington Legislature has promised to act this year to take the pressure off of local school levies to fund basic education. The state is under a Supreme Court order to constitutionally fund public schools by the 2018 school year.

So far Senate Republicans have passed a property tax swap plan. House Democrats have passed a plan that calls for billions more for education, but they haven’t identified the sources of that funding.

Right now it feels like moves on a chess board and in terms of a final deal both sides are still very much far apart. I think you’re going to see a combination of serious policy work, political gamesmanship and eventually probably serious negotiation.

But I don’t think anyone here thinks they’re going to get a deal by the last day of session, which is April 23. If there is no deal by the end of April, the governor can call lawmakers back into special session.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."