Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
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."

Teachers, Realtors Top List Of Washington's Largest Political Action Committees

Washington Public Disclosure Committee
Political action committees representing teachers and Realtors raised more money than any other PAC in Washington state in 2016.

Unionized teachers and Realtors boast the largest political action committees in Washington state this election year. Both PACs have raised more than $2 million.

The Washington Education Association PAC has already spent more than $1 million with the largest checks, $100,000 each, going to support House Democrats and the state Democratic Party.

The Washington Realtors PAC has spent $644,328 to date including $100,000 in support of House and Senate Republican re-election efforts. Realtors have also donated $40,000 to caucus committees controlled by House and Senate Democrats.

This year control of both chambers of the Washington legislature is in play as Republicans seek to hold onto their two seat majority in the state Senate and Democrats cling to the same tenuous hold on the state House.

Top issues for teachers include raising teacher pay, lowering class size and finding a reliable source of funding for public schools. The state of Washington is under a state Supreme Court order to fully fund public schools by the 2017/18 school year. Earlier this year, state lawmakers pledged to act in 2017 to end the reliance on local levies to fund schools. How lawmakers will do this and how much it will cost are unresolved and promise contentious debate next year.

To address housing supply and affordability, Realtors want the state to make more land available for housing and reduce development costs. They also oppose taxes on real estate transactions as well as a proposed state capital gains tax.

Rounding out the top five Washington political action committees are the Justice for All PAC run by the state’s trial lawyers association ($925,727), the Service Employees International Union PAC ($912,238) and the Stand for Children Washington PAC ($840,318). Trial lawyers are key players in the ongoing battle over changes to Washington’s state-run workers compensation program. SEIU is active on issues ranging from raising the minimum wage to unionizing and training homecare workers to changing Washington’s tax structure. Stand for Children is an education group that supports charter schools and opposes delinking test scores from graduation requirements.

So far this year Washington state PACS have raised nearly $27 million and spent $11.7 million. This does not include PACs set up just for the 2016 election year to work on single issues or campaigns.

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."