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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."

Washington Teachers' Union Top Lobbying Spender In Olympia So Far

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New disclosure reports are out on money spent for lobbying in Olympia. Who tops the list? So far Washington’s teachers’ union is spending the most to influence state lawmakers this legislative session.

The Washington Education Association has five top priorities for the 2013 legislature. The list includes more money for schools as directed by the Washington Supreme Court. The union is also pushing for competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and support staff.

According to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, so far this year, the 82,000 member union has spent more than $130,000 to make its voice heard. The bulk of that money has gone to field a team of lobbyists and run advertisements.

WEA spokesman Rich Wood says it should come as no surprise the union is a top lobbying spender.

“Public education is something that everybody has an interest and we want to make sure that teachers and other professional school employees are part of that conversation so that their viewpoints, as the professionals working with the kids every day, is heard in Olympia.”

The number two lobbying spender in Washington so far this year is another union: SEIU 775 representing home care and nursing home workers. The bulk of its spending was to bring in members for lobby days at the Capitol.

The list changes if you look just at money spent on lobbyists. The teachers’ union tops that list too followed by Boeing, the state’s Hospital Association and Pemco Financial Services.

On the Web:

Washington lobbyist information - Washington State Public Disclosure Commission

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."