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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."

Budget Sparks Fly As Washington Lawmakers Begin Special Session

A fresh budget proposal and some partisan sparks. That’s how a special session of the Washington legislature kicked off Friday. Senate Republicans went public with their latest budget offer and House Democrats quickly cried foul.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan questioned why the offer wasn’t made privately before the clock ran out on the regular session.

“It’s time that we ended this type of game playing and not relying on this D.C.-style politics,” Sullivan said. “It just really doesn’t belong here in Washington state.”

Senate Republicans defended their decision to unveil a new budget proposal and hold a hearing on it.

“I think it’s a very reasonable time to go public with our position to let the public know where we’re at,” Senate Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair John Braun said.

The new Senate budget abandons a controversial pension merger plan and dips into the state’s rainy day fund to pay for last summer’s wildfires. Democrats say those are moves in the right direction, but that the budget still falls short on issues like dealing with a teacher shortage.

Both sides are still hopeful a final budget compromise can be hammered out in a matter of days.

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."