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Legislators could get 11.2 percent pay raise – what about educators?

State legislators could be getting an 11.2 percent raise over the next two years.

In contrast, Gov. Inslee has proposed giving K-12 employees a 4.8 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) spread over the next two school years – after six years with no increase.

Under recommendations from an appointed state salary commission, a legislator’s salary would increase to $46,839 in September 2016. In addition, legislators receive a per diem of $120 a day, which makes them eligible to receive an additional “$19,800 over the course of a two-year term …,” according to The News Tribune.

A beginning teacher’s current base salary is $34,048.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, leader of the Senate Democrats, told the Tribune that legislators need a salary increase to attract the “best and the brightest” to serve in the Legislature.correct_logo

WEA President Kim Mead said providing professional compensation is key to attracting and retaining high quality teachers and support staff for Washington’s students. Mead said every Washington student deserves the opportunity to learn from caring, qualified and committed educators.

WEA supports recommendations from the Legislature’s Compensation Technical Working Group, which called for an inflation-adjusted base salary of $48,687 for beginning teachers.

Professional compensation for school employees is more than a COLA, Mead said. It includes competitive pay, affordable health insurance and secure retirement benefits.

Inslee’s budget plan provides no increase in state funding for K-12 employees’ health care, despite rising out-of-pocket costs. However, the governor’s budget does fund each legislator’s health care at a monthly amount nearly $200 higher than that of a teacher.

The commission’s pay recommendations for legislators are preliminary, and the commission will make a final decision on legislators’ salaries in May. Likewise, Inslee’s budget is a starting point, and the House and Senate won’t release their budget plans until later in the legislative session.

You can read WEA’s complete legislative priorities here.

Here’s a list of important education bills in the state Legislature.

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