UPDATE (June 30, 2015) — With the passage of a budget agreement that avoids a shutdown and fully funds state employee contracts, the Stop the Shutdown rally scheduled for Wednesday, July 1 has been CANCELLED.
OLYMPIA (June 25, 2015) — With the Legislature’s failure to reach a budget agreement after two overtime legislative sessions, Washington is now at the brink of a state shutdown for the first time in its history. Some 26,000 Washington state employees have been notified that they will be temporarily laid off effective midnight on Tuesday, June 30, when spending authority for state agencies lapses.
So while state employee unions continue to push legislators to do their jobs and pass an operating budget, plans are underway for what to do if lawmakers fail. On Day 1 of this potential shutdown — Wednesday, July 1 — the plan is for laid-off state employees and their supporters to descend on the State Capitol en masse for a noontime rally to demand that legislators immediately stop the shutdown!
TAKE A STAND — Mark your calendars for Wednesday, July 1 and make plans to come to Olympia for a rally from noon to 1 p.m. at the Capitol Rotunda. Several unions representing state employees are organizing the rally together, and will also conduct other actions on the campus that day. Please download and share this rally flier to help spread the word, with the understanding that this rally will not happen if a budget agreement passes and the shutdown is avoided.
If a shutdown happens beginning July 1, all 124 state parks will lock their gates, capital construction projects at community and technical colleges would shut down, the state’s drought response will be hampered, the Horse Racing Commission would close and Emerald Downs races would be suspended, the State Lottery would be shut down, and many other agencies would be closed or partially closed. These closures will not only cost the state revenue, they will idle many more private-sector workers working on state projects and contracts. The cumulative impact of these layoffs — as well as the suspension of many licensing and permitting services — would cost businesses throughout the state a significant amount of money.
A shutdown would also put the public at risk. At the Department of Corrections, community supervision of convicted felons on parole — including many violent offenders — will cease, some offenders will be released from local and tribal jails, and state prisons would be set on lockdown, which increases tensions and potentially endangers corrections officers.
So, even as the people who provide public services and their community supporters continue to push hard for a budget resolution, we need to be prepared to send a loud and clear message to lawmakers from Day 1 of a potential shutdown to end it. If legislators fail us, make plans to attend the July 1 rally in Olympia to deliver that message.
Stay tuned to The Stand for updates on the status of budget talks and whether a shutdown is avoided, in which case, the rally will not be necessary. And keep your fingers crossed that state legislators will come to their senses by then, avoid the mass layoffs and economic harm by passing a budget that includes full funding of negotiated state employee contracts.