Washington State Shutdown Could Temporarily Lay Off Thousands
The Washington state government has sent out temporary layoff notices to nearly 32,000 employees, warning them of potential layoffs in the event of a government shutdown.
The state’s lawmakers have so far failed to get a budget approved for fiscal-year 2018. In the absence of the budget, the state machinery will be brought to a halt.
The reason behind the delay is a political deadlock between the state leaders, with the Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Democrat-dominated House on one side, and the Republican-led Senate on the other.
The Democratic side is proposing an increase in taxes to fund their $44.7 billion budget plan, which includes imposing taxes on capital gains, online shopping, and certain other forms of businesses. Republicans are, on the other hand, against imposing taxes, and they also propose changing the formula for property taxes within the state.
If neither side compromises, the government will be left with little money to operate.
Nearly 52,000 kids from low-income families across the state face the threat of losing their subsidized child care, and 50,000 older Washington residents won’t get their meal services.
About 2.2 million people could temporarily lose support services related to their health insurance. This number includes 1.9 million people enrolled in Washington State’s health insurance program for low-income people.
A government shutdown has never happened before in the state, although the state has been on the verge twice: once in 2013 and again in 2015. Both times, the governor approved the budgets by June 30, the last day before the deadline.
However, this time Governor Inslee said, “We have to be prepared for a shutdown.”
The Washington Federation of State Employees says that even if the state doesn’t shut down, the legislators have wasted valuable government resources on preparing for the shutdown. This includes the costs incurred by sending out the 32,000 layoff notices.
A spokesperson for the federation said, “They can’t wait until the last minute, so much time and money has been expended. That money should be spent helping the people of Washington.”
The fate of the state employees is now resting in the hands of the lawmakers. If they fail to finalize the budget before the deadline of July 1, the government may have to partially shut down.
“With lawmakers in limbo over budget, 32,000 state employees to get temporary layoff notices,” Q13 Fox, June 22, 2017.
“Here’s what a government shutdown July 1 might mean for state workers and services,” The News Tribune, June 22, 2017.