Olympia, Wash. - With furlough notices poised to go out on Monday, the governor's office has released detailed documents showing the impact of a government shutdown. The governor will have to implement the plan if the state legislature doesn't agree on an operating budget by July 1.
"This not what we want to do," said Mary Ann Heuschel, Governor Inslee's Chief of Staff, "this is something that is legally required for us to do." And because union contracts require five to seven day's notice of furloughs, temporary layoff notices will go out Monday if a budget is not in place by then.
"It's kind of scary," said Anthony Distefano, who works at DSHS, "We have to pay bills and everything just like everybody else."
"Everyone is concerned because we have families we have to support and every dollar counts," said Stan Njuguna, who works at the Employment Security Department.
Officials say two-thirds of state agencies would have to shut down completely; parks, fish hatcheries, and the lottery would close. While state prisons would continue to hold inmates, criminals under community supervision would not be supervised and sex offenders would not be monitored. In an email sent to state workers, Governor Inslee wrote, "I know the uncertainty is hard on you, your colleagues and your families." State troopers and transportation projects would not be affected because both are paid for out of the transportation budget which has already passed.
Leaders from the House and the Senate met behind closed doors to negotiate on the budget Thursday. "We're working to get this done as fast as possible," said Seattle Representative Frank Chopp (D), Speaker of the Democratic dominated House. The negotiations have been helped by a new revenue forecast that added $320 million to state coffers. "We are going to finish on Sunday," said Medina Senator Rodney Tom, leader of the Republican dominated Senate. "And there will be absolutely no shutdown of state government."