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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM

House passes state operating budget

State lawmakers Thursday reached agreement on a state operating budget that doesn’t close tax breaks or provide a pay increase for teachers.

Overall it increases state spending by roughly $155 million, of which $89 million will pay for increased costs of running state services and the rest goes toward new spending, including an additional $58 million for K-12 materials and operating costs.

The House passed the budget Thursday afternoon, 85 to 13, and it now goes to the Senate where it’s expected to be approved and sent to the governor.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Andy Hill, R-Redmond, touted the fact the budget was bi-partisan, did not close tax breaks or substantially increase state spending. It also keeps college tuition flat for another year.

House Democrats, who had advocated closing several tax breaks to put more money into education, including a cost-of-living increase for teachers, said they were unable to reach agreement with Republicans on those proposals.

“This is what we can both agree on and get done,” House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina said. “We have more work to do next year.”

Reaching a budget deal was key for lawmakers to wrap up their work before the regular session ends at midnight on Thursday.

This year’s budget is supposed to be a supplemental plan that generally takes care of small changes in spending. The Legislature last year approved a $33.6 billion, two-year state budget.

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