Washington State Senate Approves Budget with Bipartisan Vote - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington State Senate Approves Budget with Bipartisan Vote

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - A bipartisan group of state senators is advancing a budget plan that balances spending without new taxes, relying on cuts to social programs and fund transfers that irked some Democrats.

The Senate's operating budget plan would spend $33.3 billion to fund education, natural resource-management, corrections and other areas of state government for the 2013-15 budget cycle that begins July 1.

The budget would also invest an additional $1.5 billion in basic education and put more emphasis on funding higher education and early learning.

That $1.5 billion additional investment in K-12 education represents an 11 percent increase compared to the current budget. Higher-education funding grows at the same rate, and support for early learning is increased by more than 20 percent. In contrast, spending on non-education areas of state government grows at a rate of 1.5 percent – far lower than proposed by the governor last week.

Republican Sen. Andy Hill said the measure includes some tough decisions but helps reprioritize state spending without relying on taxes.
Democrats proposed a variety of amendments to the budget, seeking to add even more money to education and restore some money to social services programs. Democratic Sen. Sharon Nelson voted in favor of the budget but said negotiators need to keep looking at new revenue to help pay for education and the social safety net.
The House is expected to unveil its budget proposal next week.