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Government and Politics
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 Republicans Say 'No' To Dipping Into Rainy Day Funds

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Austin Jenkins
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Northwest News Network
Senate Republican budget writer Andy Hill says a broader effort to address teacher recruitment and retention in Washington should wait for 2017 when teacher compensation will be front and center in the budget.

The stage is set in Olympia for a fight over eliminating tax breaks and whether to dip into the state’s rainy day fund. House Democrats say ‘yes’ to both. Senate Republicans say ‘no’.

The Senate’s chief budget writer, Andy Hill, opposes a Democratic plan to boost beginning teacher pay by closing or curtailing a series of tax exemptions.

“We really think the teacher shortage thing is something that needs to be solved with the entire levy, compensation issue that’s going to be happening next year,” Hill said.

That’s when Washington lawmakers say the state will fully fund teacher and staff salaries and take the burden off local levies.

Senate Republicans say the priority this year should be to pay for last summer’s wildfires and address other emergencies. Democrats have a longer list of spending items.

Both sides have until March 10 to reconcile their differences and pass an updated budget.