House lawmakers pass budget - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

House lawmakers pass budget

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Olympia, Wash. -- Washington state House lawmakers approved on Saturday their version of the next two-year state budget, passing on a 53-43 vote a proposal that would slash $4.4 billion from state spending.

With two weeks left in the 2011 legislative session, Saturday's vote advances lawmakers in Olympia one step closer toward slashing a projected $5.1 billion deficit in the state budget. The senate is expected to release their budget next week.

Majority democrats say the budget is sustainable and responsible as the state struggles to climb out of the great recession. Minority republicans say the budget keeps overspending and some balked at the proposal of privatizing state liquor distribution.

The proposed budget cuts nearly $485 million from higher education and transfers $214 million in funds. The House's plan also halts automatic increase to state employee retirement plans to save $362 million and takes another $216 million from Kindergarten through 4th grade class-size programs.