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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."

Standoff Creates Big Hole In Washington State's New Budget

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

Washington state's brand new operating budget was not even hours old Wednesday when it sprung a big hole.

A $2 billion hole.

That cropped up because the new two-year spending plan was balanced on the assumption that lawmakers would trim back a costly school class size reduction initiative.

"The important thing to sort out is we have a $2 billion hole in the middle of a perfectly good budget that is going to have to get fixed,” said David Schumacher, Governor Jay Inslee's budget director. “It's not a crisis. It's a problem that needs to be addressed."

Democrats in the Washington Senate unexpectedly balked early this morning at suspending the voter-approved class size initiative. The Senate Democrats may agree to go along though in exchange for canceling a high school biology test requirement. It’s preventing up to 2,000 Washington students from graduating.

Lawmakers in Olympia may try to fix those problems -- and few other stray spending issues --next week after taking a holiday time out.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.