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Washington state won't pay for school lead tests until fall 2017, at the earliest

File Photo of an old water fountain.
Flickr Photo/Paul Domenick (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/
File Photo of an old water fountain.

Washington lawmakers want to step up efforts to keep lead out of school drinking water. But the state won't pay for school water quality tests until at least fall of 2017.

Spokane Democrat Timm Ormsby chairs the House's budget committee.

He said, "The testing for the healthy and safety of our children is a high priority for the House Democratic caucus. And as the chair of the committee, it would be irresponsible for the legislature to not address the health and safety of our school-aged children."

Ormsby said the legislature needs to pay for two separate things: water quality tests and repairs for any schools with lead problems. Even if the legislature OKs them next year, schools wouldn't get the money until late 2017.

The state was going to pay for water quality tests years ago, but the recession stopped those plans.

Currently the only school districts testing are those that can afford it on their own, like Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane.

Governor Jay Inslee has directed the state's health board to come up with a budget for the testing by October.