Governor confident deal will be reached as government shutdown looms

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - State lawmakers have days to reach a budget deal before the state's first ever partial shutdown.

About 32,000 state workers are facing temporary layoffs.

>>Washington state budget deal close as shutdown anxiety builds

The official deadline is midnight Friday, but some lawmakers say they have even less time.    

Lawmakers say because they have to review the budget before voting -- and staff in the governor's office has to scrutinize it before deciding whether to use a veto -- lawmakers may only really have until Wednesday morning to get the budget sorted out.

The gap between budget negotiators on both sides of the aisle is down to about $500 billion.


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The biggest obstacle is education funding reform to conform with the McCleary decision.

>>What does a Washington state government shutdown mean for you?

House Democrats propose spending nearly $45 billion over two years, about $1.6 billion more than the Republican plan.

Democrats have conceded a plan to raise a capital gains tax while Republicans are talking a statewide property tax.

Governor Inslee says he's confident a deal will be reached before July 1.

"Legislative and budget leaders are expressing that they’ll be able to reach a final agreement,” said Inslee.

>>No enforcement of delinquent child-support payments in state government shutdown

By this point two years ago, state lawmakers had reached a deal, and by the time it reached the governor’s desk, it was just 30 minutes to the deadline before a partial government shutdown.

But 32,000 layoff warnings have already gone out to state workers.

Government services could be severely cut down or shut down altogether and state parks could be closed if a deal is not reached.

Here’s what we know now on how a government shutdown could impact you based on contingency plans, though leaders say state agencies are going through a great deal of uncertainty because the state has never experienced a partial shutdown.

Temporary layoffs

If the state Legislature doesn’t come up with a budget deal, it’s lights out for many state government operations and at least 32,000 state employees would be temporarily laid off.

Contingency plans for a potential shutdown have been ongoing for weeks. Notices were sent out last week to employees. 

State parks close

All of Washington state parks would close July 1. Washington State Park operates more than 100 parks.

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In the event of a shutdown, all prior camping reservations will be canceled despite the July 4 holiday.

“The gates will be locked. There will be no skeleton crew. There will be nobody to provide services. There will be no electricity. There won’t be water,” said Virginia Painter with Washington State Parks.

Refunds will be issued for all reservations if a shutdown occurs, but campers are encouraged to keep their existing plans until further notice. State parks are also popular venues for summer weddings, which is tough luck for couples scrambling to find an alternate wedding venue.

No lottery tickets

Gamblers in the state won’t be feeling lucky either: sales of all lottery tickets would cease on July 1.

DOC can’t take any new prisoners

The Department of Corrections would temporarily lose 3,400 of their approximately 8,500 workers. While State Corrections facilities will remain in operation, they would not be able to accept any new prisoners as of July 1. County jails would have to handle all new prisoner intake.

Although Jeremy Barclay with the D.O.C is reassuring the public there are no safety concerns, he does acknowledge that for the roughly 18,000 former prisoners under state supervision, “supervision will be limited… there will be some sex offenders who will not be under community supervision.”

Impacted health

The Washington State Department of Health said it’s disease outbreak protection capabilities crippled.

“Routine disease testing would cease, causing outbreaks to go undetected and unmitigated. No disease outbreak support would be provided which includes tracking, testing, and managing disease prevention efforts,” said David Johnson with the D.O.H.

He notes that the state is currently experiencing a mumps outbreak, with roughly 870 documented cases on record. Other efforts to combat measles, food borne illness, and sexually transmitted infection would be compromised.

“If there is a shutdown, this will impact the health of all Washingtonians,” Johnson said.

Statewide supervision limited

Twenty-nine state agencies close in the event of a shutdown, limiting supervision for several areas.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife would lose approximately 1,500 employees along with much of their ability to monitor licensing violations, over-harvesting, and poaching. With the State Liquor and Cannabis Board closed, enforcement operations would cease entirely. And at the Department of Social and Health Services, no one will be enforcing delinquent child support payments.

“Our state’s nine child support field offices would all be closed, which would likely result in the loss or delay of about 6000 … payments per month,” said Adolfo Capestany with DSHS. Additionally, “… There would be no active work done on new child support cases, including enforcement.”

About the history of government shutdowns in Washington

This is the third time in four years state government has been on the brink of closure, all because legislators have failed to agree on budgets in a timely fashion.

In 2013 and 2015, a shutdown was narrowly avoided by last-minute deal-making and stop-gap funding measures. This year, that won’t happen. Inslee earlier this week says he will veto any temporary funding packages that would simply kick the can down the road.

Washington state has never had a partial government shutdown.


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