Washington State Legislature needs to approve a budget soon– or 26,000 people will be laid off by July 1

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OLYMPIA– If the Washington State legislature doesn’t approve a biennial budget by June 21st when the second special session ends, we could be looking at a government shutdown and around 26,000 people getting lay off notices by the end of the month.

In April, the Office of Financial Management began looking at contingency plans for government operations in case the legislature doesn’t pass the 2017-2019 operating and capital budgets.

The office says it does expect a budget agreement, but in our last two biennial budgets in 2013 and 2015, we’ve come within days of a shutdown.

If there is not an agreement, state employees would begin getting lay off notices on June 22. The Office of Financial Management said many employees have a “seven-day notice” in their contracts.

The state government’s fiscal year — and current budget — ends after June 30. A government shutdown would begin July 1.

On the website for the Office of Financial Management, there are already templates posted for employee layoff letters.


They also posted a Q & A for employees:

The Office of Financial Management asked agencies that would be impacted to provide them with an updated contingency plan.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says in its plan that the most visible effects of a shutdown would be the suspension of fish and wildlife enforcement activities, hatchery operations and closures of sport and commercial fisheries and boating access sites.

In the plan, the DFW says, “I want to clarify that we will do everything possible to continue to feed and care for the fish and animals in our hatcheries and other facilities but under the constraints of a government shutdown I’m not optimistic that we can prevent the loss of life.”

The Department of Social and Health Services says they believe they have a legal obligation to continue even in the absence of an enacted state budget based on public safety. They said approximately one half of the DSHS work force would need to continue at their 24/7 operations such as state psychiatric hospitals and juvenile rehabilitation institutions.

Another department that would be significantly impacted: Veterans Affairs.

Here’s a look at a portion of its contingency plan:

For a complete look at all of the agencies that would be impacted and their contingency plans, click here. 

Lawmakers were supposed to have agreed on a budget back in April, but instead entered a second special session in May.

Governor Jay Inslee’s message for both Democrats and Republicans? Compromise on taxes.

Both sides want to spend more money on education but disagree on how to pay for it. The Republicans want to change how property taxes are assessed, mostly increasing property taxes in cities like Seattle while lowering them in many rural parts of the state.

Many Democrats would rather rely on taxing polluters through a carbon tax and the rich with a capital gains tax. The reality? Neither side has enough support to pass their measures as they stand now.

Since 2012, the overtime sessions have cost taxpayers more than $1.5 million.

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