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Originally published Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 10:08 AM

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House Democrats unveil new budget proposal

House Democrats have unveiled a new budget proposal they say brings them closer to Senate Republicans as lawmakers try to reach a deal before the special legislative session ends next week.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

House Democrats have unveiled a new budget proposal they say brings them closer to Senate Republicans as lawmakers try to reach a deal before the special legislative session ends next week.

The plan released Wednesday includes eliminating early retirement benefits for state employees hired after July 1, a move that both Republicans and Gov. Chris Gregoire are in favor of. It also includes a two-year balanced budget measure that would require an outlook for a four-year budget. Republicans had wanted a four-year requirement in statute, not just an outlook.

The measure also repeals a voter-approved initiative to reduce class sizes. While Initiative 728 has been on the books, lawmakers have either suspended or not fully funded it in past budgets.

Lawmakers are trying to close a roughly half-billion dollar shortfall for the two-year budget cycle ending June 2013.

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