Senate GOP’s decision to hold capital budget hostage costs 500 jobs (and counting)
The following is from the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28:
OLYMPIA (Nov. 21, 2017) — Nearly 500 state agency and higher education jobs have or will be cut because of the outgoing Senate Republican majority’s foot dragging on a 2017-2019 capital construction budget. The House passed that budget, EHB 1075, on June 30 on a near-unanimous 92-1 vote, but the Senate Republican majority refused to act, holding billions in construction projects and hundreds of jobs hostage over an unrelated water rights bill.
This dynamic changes in the Senate soon when newly elected Sen. Manka Dhingra of the 45th District gives the Democrats a one-vote majority.
Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s still interested in calling back lawmakers in early December to pass a capital-construction budget. But that may be unlikely because, The Seattle Times reported, “the capital-construction budget itself could pass with a simple majority. But the accompanying bonding bill needs a 60-percent vote — meaning Democratic senators would still need five GOP votes to pass it.”
So the impasse may go on all the way through the end of the 60-day session that begins in January 2018.
Last Friday, the House Capital Budget Committee learned the harsh impact the impasse has had.
Melissa Palmer of the Legislature’s Office of Program Research testified that agencies have identified 488 positions that are projected to be eliminated or reduced between August 2017 to March 2018. These include permanent, non-permanent and project positions eliminated or reduced. Some positions include vacancies. Here is that list:
Fish and Wildlife: 15 positions already cut with 73 more from December to March.
The Evergreen State College: already 1 position cut, 3 have reduced hours; in January, another 7 positions would be cut with one’s hours reduced.
State Parks: 26 positions already cut (7 vacant); 25 more would be cut after January.
Department of Enterprise Services: 22 positions cut in October (4 vacant).
DSHS: 1 position cut in October.
Washington State Historical Society: 1 position with reduced hours, with 1 position cut in February.
Department of Natural Resources: 30 positions cut this month; 25 more cut by March.
University of Washington: 122 positions cut over six months.
Bates Technical College: 5 positions cut.
Department of Corrections: 28 positions would be cut in January.
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction: 13 positions would be cut in January.
Clark College: 20 positions and 4 reduced hours in January.
Washington State University: 65 positions cut over three months.
The impact on projects is harsh, too. Palmer cited eight school districts’ construction projects are delayed, 61 drinking water project contracts are suspended, state hospitals’ forensic capacity projects are delayed, and the Western State Hospital System Improvement Agreement projects are delayed.
In the recent capital budget requests, the delay has caused some agencies to increase the estimated costs for completing projects.