Budget deal assumes pay cut for teachers; actual impact not so clear

State lawmakers today announced a budget deal that includes a 1.9 percent pay cut for teachers. But it’s not clear yet how many teachers might actually see a pay cut.

While the state will reduce its funding to local school districts, each district has its own union contract and will have to decide how to deal with the cuts. Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) said as many as half the state’s districts may look at other options, including layoffs or other cuts. The state budget deal also assumes that school administrators will take a 3 percent pay cut.

"Students in the state of Washington will not get the same quality of education this coming year that they got even just 3 years ago," said Mary Lindquist, Washington Education Association President.

State lawmakers say they believe the teacher pay cuts are fair because other state employees will be facing furloughs. Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-Ridhefield), said that with step increases or salary bumps for education, many teachers will still see an increase in pay.

To close of 5 billion dollar budget shortfall, the deal also suspends a state class size reduction initiative and additional funding for K-4 education.

State lawmakers went into special session as Democrats tried to save some social programs. The final budget deal preserves the Basic Health plan and Disability Lifeline, though both programs will see changes.

Meanwhile, the budget deal also cuts higher education funding substantially, and eliminates automatic cost of living increases to some state retirement plans.

Lawmakers have worked out a compromise on reforming the workers compensation system, and have a tentative agreement regarding the state debt limit. Some details still need the worked out but state lawmakers expressed optimism that they will pass a budget and go home by Wednesday, the last day of the special session.

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