As of Tuesday, June 13, 2017
OLYMPIA Budget talks have become potentially dire for thousands of the state’s employees.
The state budget office has formally notified the union that represents Washington state employees that workers could be temporarily laid off if a compromise isn’t reached by July 1.
State lawmakers are in their second special session after they were unable to reach a budget agreement during the regular legislative session.
Some employees received notice of potential layoffs in the past two weeks.
Tim Welch, the director of public affairs for the Washington Federation of State Employees, said the notifications hurt morale and the uncertainty hurts state agencies’ ability to plan for the future.
“How do you keep highways clear during summer traveling months?” he said. “How do you prepare for what happens after July 1?”
The agreement also must satisfy the state Supreme Court’s mandate to come up with a funding model for Washington’s schools.
Democrats have called for a tax increase on polluters through a carbon tax. They also sought to increase the capital gains tax before Gov. Jay Inslee took that option off the table.
Republicans want to raise property taxes in cities such as Seattle and lower them in rural parts of the state, such as Eastern Washington.
Senate Republicans want cuts to state government and have so far rejected state employees’ new contracts.