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Murray: Budget Deal Better than Sequestration for Wash. State

J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Sen. Patty Murray says the deal she reached with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan will spare Washington state residents from another round of across-the-board budget cuts—welcome news to researchers at the University of Washington.

Murray says the budget deal replaces automatic sequestration cuts with reductions that she says are smarter and more targeted. She says that means government workers in Washington state probably will not have to work shorter weeks like they’ve done this  year.

"We had many civilian employees, about 6,700 of them, who were furloughed this past year because of sequestration. That meant their family didn’t get a paycheck, and they didn’t spend money in their local stores, said Murray, D-Wash.

And, the senator says, organizations like the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington will fare better under the budget agreement than they did under sequestration. UW vice provost for research Mary Lidstrom says many departments have not been able to hire new staff, and some have had to lay off staff as a result of federal budget cuts. She says she was thrilled to hear a deal had been reached.

"It does, at least at this point, look as if there will not be further cuts, because we were bracing for that, that was going to have a major impact here," Lidstrom said. 

One thing Murray says she regrets she couldn’t persuade the Republicans to agree to was extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. But Murray says she aims to keep fighting for that separately from the budget legislation. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.