December 14, 2011

Is this the last day of the special session?

This could be the last day of the special session.

The House Tuesday night passed the “early action” package of administrative savings and cuts that trim about a quarter off the deficit problem.

HB 2058 raises about $480 million of the $2 billion needed. The vote was 86-8. The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed its version of the same bill (SB 5883). The Senate is poised to vote on the package today.

Both the House and Senate convene at 10 a.m. today. It’s believed they will work until they have an agreed-upon early action bill to send to the governor’s desk.

With that, there’s the real likelihood the Legislature would then adjourn the special session today and go home for the holidays. They’ll return for the regular session on Jan. 9 to finish work on the deficit.

The early action bill is a promising move, but you know much work remains to save public safety, public services, health care and higher education.

By the way, both budget committees passed the “joint memorials” asking Congress to allow states to tax out-of-state Internet sales. SJM 8009 passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee and HJM 4012 passed the House Ways and Means Committee.

Public Safety Matters: Senators urged to reject cuts to community corrections, junvenile parole

The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday held what’s is likely it’s last budget hearing for the special session – this one focusing on criminal justice issues.

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich said frontline officers “have grave concerns” with the proposed cuts to community supervision and early release of dangerous offenders.

Zuvich said 80 percent of those released from prison would have only half the parole they used to get.

“What that ends up shaking out to is that they just don’t have time to complete the kind of programs that help them not get back into jail,” he said. “Like cognitive behavioral treatment, like drug and alcohol treatment, like psychotropic drug treatment, mental health treatment, those kinds of things are going to be reduced because their parole time is going to be shortened to such an extent that they just literally can’t complete the programs.”

Zuvich also urged senators to reject proposed reductions in juvenile parole.

He said that the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration estimates that 48 percent of juvenile offenders released would commit more crimes if they had no parole.

“These would be folks that would go to jail in their next round,” Zuvich said.

December 13, 2011

Lawmakes thinking out of the box on budget/revenue solutions


Pushed by your job actions, ideas on closing tax giveaways and personal visits and messages to legislators, many lawmakers are starting to come up with alternatives to the all-cuts budget.

Starting to. Where it ends up is still uncertain.

Here’s a roundup
  • The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled this morning to vote on an “early action” bill that would solve about a quarter of the $2 billion deficit problem. It would find the savings from administrative cuts like fund transfers, changed caseloads and implementation assumptions and the like.

    It raises some problems we have to watch closely – like cutting several positions at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island and releasing 21 non-violent juvenile offenders on their earliest possible release dates.

    It may not be the full answer but it’s a step forward in finding a solution to stopping the cuts and finding revenue to save public safety, public services, health care and higher education.

    Both the House version (HB 2058) and Senate version (SB 5883) had hearings Monday in the respective Ways and Means committees.

    Observers believe the Legislature will adopt the early action bill this week and adjourn their special session. They’d then come back for the regular session starting Jan. 9 to tackle the rest of the deficit problem.
  • Legislative measures ask Congress for authority that could raise $500 million. Both Ways and Means committees on Monday held public hearings on companion messages (called “joint memorials”) to Washington’s two United States senators and nine members of Congress asking them to support the Main Street Fairness Act to allow the state to collect sales tax on Internet sales from out of state. It could raise $500 million, according to the top House budget writer.

    HJM 4012 and SJM 8009 also ask President Obama to sign the federal legislation if it passes Congress. Again, another promising concept that could get us closer to an alternative to the all-cuts budget. HJM 4012 is scheduled for a vote of the House Ways and Means Committee this morning.
  • Jobs Bill. A unique partnership between the Washington State Labor Council and the Association of General Contractors has authored a bill to issue revenue bonds to fund construction projects – and create jobs. And if there are more jobs, there’s more revenue – and another alternative to an all-cuts budget.

    We can’t say it any better than the Washington State Labor Council:

    “It’s time to stop dealing with the symptoms and to treat the disease. What Washington needs to fully recover from the Great Recession is JOBS.

    The clearest way for state government to create jobs is to hire people. Right now, budget cuts are doing the opposite: taking away thousands of public-sector jobs from Washington families. There’s insufficient revenue in the general fund to maintain those jobs and services. But capital budget revenue can be leveraged to support substantial job creation. Washington is in position to frontload that money and create real jobs NOW by investing in public buildings and infrastructure.

    “The Washington State Labor Council/AFL-CIO, the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council and others in the labor movement have formed an unprecedented coalition with industry groups led by the Association of General Contractors (AGC) to support jobs legislation that would accomplish this.

    “The idea is to pay for state construction projects through revenue bonds.”
We’ll keep you posted on this promising idea.

December 9, 2011

Hydraulic fees to protect the environment supported by union

Olympia Local 443 Fish and Wildlife member Tim Young testified Tuesday in favor of HB 2135, to impose a permit fee for hydraulic projects (construction projects around water). It would defray costs of the vital environmental program.

“Without these fees, I think there are going to be some serious compromises relative to resource protection,” Young told the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rainier School boosted

At the Tuesday Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing devoted to health care and developmental disabilities, Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich urged the panel to reject the governor’s plan to close Rainier School in Buckley.

“Closing and limiting those beds is not looking very far down the road in our opinion and we don’t believe it’s going to be cheaper, so we hope you’ll take another look at that,” Zuvich said. “We hope you’ll take a look at the option of revenue and revenue that deals not only with the short-term immediate need but some medium and long-term structural needs that our state system needs.”

Community Corrections members conintue to mobilize

• On Tuesday (Dec. 6), WFSE/AFSCME Community Corrections officers and specialists from Spokane, Okanogan County, the Tri-Cities and Tacoma turned out in force to show opposition to plans to turn community supervision over to the counties. The idea was discussed in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.
• On Wednesday (Dec. 7), DOC members of Local 1299 staged peaceful picketing in Wenatchee (pictured here).
• Thursday, DOC Local 308 in Seattle holds a Public Safety Matters/Save Community Supervision Peaceful Picketing, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, outside Seattle Criminal Justice Center, 1550 4th Ave. S., Seattle.

Legislation to help make up Parks shortfall, but situation still dire

On the day after the stunning announcement that state Parks was cutting $11 million and potentially laying off some 160 staff because of the slow takeoff in sales of the Discover Pass, members on Wednesday (Dec. 7) continued their fight on several fronts.

• The Parks Union-Management Communication Committee held an emergency meeting at the agency’s Tumwater headquarters.

• A majority of both the Senate and House signed onto companion bills aimed at helping to boost sales of the Discover Pass to make up the $11 million deficit.
Senate Bill 5977, prime sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker of the 40th District, had 33 of the Senate’s 49 members sign on. House Bill 2153, prime sponsored by Rep. Zack Hudgins of the 11th District, had the backing of 53 of the House’s 98 members.

Both bills would correct a flaw some believe has hindered sales. It would allow the Discover Pass to be transferred to one other vehicle.

• And at a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Natural Resource agency programs, Statewide Parks Local 1466's Terry McCullough asked lawmakers for help to make up the shortfall caused by the slow takeoff of Discover Pass sales.

“If we don’t fill the shortfall, parks will be forced to cut $11 million from our budget,” McCullough told the senators on the committee. “Because of that, this week, 160 park employees were told that their positions will be eliminated.

“What does that look like to the public? There will be parks with no ranger assigned to it. No one there to sell a Discover Pass. No one to check camper registrations. No one to quiet noisy campers after 10 o’clock. No one to chase away the bad guys. There will be no law enforcement to keep our families safe. ...

“Pick parks. Look at your budget. Increase revenue. Ask corporations to take the same 3 percent cut on their tax exemptions that state employees have taken in our wages. It’s only fair.”

At the same hearing, Federation Lobbyist Alia Griffing encouraged lawmakers “to look other places to raise dollars to help support critical services and keep our state from going backwards. It’s clear that we need additional revenue and we know that it will take some creativity and proverbial cojones.”

• And the union continues to independently promote the Discover Pass. You can help by buying the $30 annual Discover Pass, which gives you access to nearly 7 million acres of state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas and trailheads. You can purchase the Discover Pass online at or call (866) 320-9933 24 hours a day. The online site also has links to some 600 local vendors where you can buy the passes in person.

If you buy the Discover Pass at a state park or agency headquarters in Tumwater, you won't have to pay the extra transaction fee. Join the team and buy your Discover Pass! Great gift idea for the holidays.

December 6, 2011

Parks Commission announces deep cuts - and there's a simple way each and every one of us can help

The State Parks and Recreation Commission this morning holds a special meeting this morning to move a budget cut of $11 million by mid-January because the lifeline the Legislature threw the agency – the Discover Pass – has not brought in as much revenue as needed.

We can help by buying the $30 annual Discover Pass, which gives you access to nearly 7 million acres of state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas and trailheads. You can purchase the Discover Pass online at or call (866) 320-9933 24 hours a day. The online site also has links to some 600 local vendors where you can buy the passes in person.

The Legislature created the pass last year when the governor and lawmakers cut state general funds for parks.

It was supposed to bring in $54 million but is only generating about 50 percent of the needed revenue.

The problem is the agency doesn’t have the budget to promote the Discover Pass so a lot of people don’t even know about it. A lot of us have just put off buying it. But with the holidays approaching, it’s a great gift for families. And it will literally help save the quality of our state parks. And the jobs of some of the most dedicated Federation members we have.

Here are the sad facts coming out today:
  • Staff who may be affected by layoffs are getting at-risk letters.
  • The agency proposes moving to a more seasonal approach to field operations in some areas to save $7 million.
  • Headquarters staff and program reductions of about $1.3 million.
  • Regional staff reductions of about $1.4 million.
  • Equipment, office leases, contract reductions to be determined.
This doesn’t mean we don’t have issues with the agency. The Federation and Statewide Parks Local 1466 have raised the red flag for months now. But we’ll deal with that at the proper time. Right now, we need to help our Parks members.

Because they’re in a statewide local, you may not have one-on-one contact with our Parks members. But they’ve been there for the rest of the Federation, including last week during the Week of Action to push legislators to find revenue to save public safety, public services and higher education.

Now we need to stand with them.

Please, set aside some of your holiday gift-buying budget and buy a Discover Pass. Again: You can purchase the Discover Pass online at or call (866) 320-9933 24 hours a day. The online site also has links to some 600 local vendors where you can buy the passes in person.

Buy a Discover Pass. Save a job. Save a wholesome family recreational resource.

Tell us how you Discover, share photos or plans for 2012 - on Facebook DiscoverPass Washington.

December 5, 2011

It's time to take the "stop cuts - find revenue" campaign to your hometown

The Legislature is not doing much in this second week of the emergency special session. Today and Friday, lawmakers will pretty much be on the floor or in caucus. Some important hearings take place this week, but the pace we expected hasn’t materialized.

Legislation has already surfaced on revenue alternative ideas different than the governor’s. Rep. Chris Reykdal will shortly introduce legislation to close some 160 tax breaks and giveaways. Sen. Paull Shin of the 21st District introduced SB 5972 to tie a sales tax increase to the unemployment rate. There’s lots of debate on different revenue ideas and it’s clearly too early to have a fix on what will come out of special session or the regular session starting in January.

At this point, we applaud all efforts to actually debate revenue alternatives to the governor’s all-cuts budget. But it’s way too early to get bogged down in details – because there are no details at this point. But know you are shaping the debate with your longtime efforts to push to close billions in tax giveaways. Remember, the governor actually addressed closing tax breaks in her budget package – something she might not have undertaken had it not been for you. And legislators have the tax giveaways report from the Federation that they got when members visited them in Olympia last week.

Progress to stop the cuts and find revenue to avoid the all-cuts budget is being made. Just not as quickly as most would like.

So it’s time to take the campaign to your hometown – to the legislative districts of lawmakers.

Many of these have already taken place. More are planned. We need to do more.

If you’re interested in doing a local job action in your legislative district, contact April Sims at 1-800-562-6002 or We can help with logistics, signs, buttons and recruitment.

    • On Tuesday, the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee holds a work session on community supervision alternatives – we believe this is the proposal to shift Community Corrections duties to the counties. 10 a.m., Senate Hearing Room 1, Cherberg Building.

    • On Wednesday, the same committee looks at evidence-based options to improve statewide outcomes – a report from the Washington Institute for Public Policy. 1:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room 1, Cherberg Building.

    • The Senate Ways and Means Committee holds important budget hearings on parts of the all-cuts budget: Tuesday, Dec. 6 on health care, long-term care and developmental disabilities; and Wednesday, Dec. 7, on natural resources and general government. The original Thursday, Dec. 8 on criminal justice has been changed to another topic. We’ll keep you updated. The Ways and Means hearings are all at 3:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 4 in the Cherberg Building.


Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 3:30pm - 19th Legislative District Job Action In front of WorkSource office, 511 W. Heron, Aberdeen to support jobs package and revenue.

Thursday, Dec. 8 from 4-6pm - 30th Legislative District Job Action
Peaceful picketing in Federal Way on the corner of 348th and Pacific Highway S., near the Chevron station.

Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 11:30am-12:30pm - 44th Legislative District Job Action
Sidewalk at 12906 Bothell-Everett Highway, Everett to call on Sen. Steve Hobbs to stand with the 99%

Thursday, Dec. 15 at 3:30pm -41st Legislative District Job Action
Sign-waving and leafleting at Chase Bank; delegation will then deliver a holiday card to Sen. Steve Litzow’s district office nearby. Meet at Chase Bank, 10550 N.E. 8th St., Bellevue, WA 98004 (corner of Northeast 8th Street and 106th Avenue Northeast).