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Senate proposes pay cut for school employees

Austin Jenkins
In a rare display of bipartisanship, budget Chair Ed Murray, D-Seattle (on the left) co-wrote the Senate’s budget proposal with ranking Republican Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield

Teachers and other public school employees in Washington could face a 3% pay cut. That’s one of the key cost-saving measures contained in the State Senate’s two-year budget proposal. It was unveiled late Tuesday.

State employees have already agreed to a 3% wage cut through reduced work hours. Now the Washington State Senate would extend that pay cut to public school employees – including teachers. It remains unclear how a reduction in pay and hours would work in schools. Senate Budget Chair Ed Murray, a Democrat, says a shorter school year it not a viable option, so he’s working on a proposal:

“That would offer an ability for school districts to offer furlough days.”

But lead Republican budget-writer Joe Zarelli is wary of the furlough approach:

“I don’t know how you give somebody a day off and then back-fill with a substitute for less money. I don’t know.”

While Murray and Zarelli disagree on this detail, they co-wrote the Senate budget in a rare display of bipartisanship. The Senate budget would cut deeper than the House budget passed last Saturday.

Senate leaders reduced their budget under heavy security. A dozen or more State Troopers were on hand. Last week, troopers arrested protestors outside the Governor’s office. On Saturday, the State Patrol forcibly removed protestors who had camped out for several nights in the Capitol Rotunda.

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." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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