December 15, 2010

Governor unveils proposed budget that cuts, cuts, cuts

Saying she had no choice in this time of $5.7 billion deficit, Gov. Chris Gregoire this morning unveiled a budget she said she hates and in places “isn’t even moral.”

But whatever the reasons, the blunt impact is it will add permanent layoffs to a total of 10,000 by the end of the next biennium (1,800 more on top of the 8,200 layoffs in the current biennium).

Her budget would drastically trim state services:
  • In Juvenile Rehabilitation, closing Maple Lane School by June 30, 2011, releasing more non-violent and low-risk youthful offenders, and reducing juvenile parole services, including increasing caseloads from 1 to 20 to 1 to 25. Total jobs cut: 88.
  • In Mental Health, maintaining the Oct. 1, 2010 Western State Hospital ward closure by reducing clinical staff associated with that ward, reducing costs at Eastern State Hospital and the ESH Consolidated Support Services, for a total Mental Health employee cut of 117 positions. 
  • In Developmental Disabilities, Frances Haddon Morgan Center would close June 30, 2011, and Yakima Valley School in June 2013. Total DD jobs cut: 173.
  • In Corrections, staff positions would be eliminated and several areas of supervision cut, including less electronic home monitoring of sex offenders.
  • In Parks, the state would cut all funding and rely on users to pay a use a fee. If the user fees don't generate enough revenue, the agency can close, transfer or mothball parks.
The agreement also factors in the 3 percent temporary salary reduction in the tentative contract agreement announced yesterday. The governor corrected the savings she announced yesterday. The real amount is $330 million not the $269 million she announced.

In a side issue, the governor made it clear she will not re-open the current contract and try to cut pay any more between now and June. "Enough is enough. I'm not going to go back to state employees," she said. "I don't know how we expect them to work their hearts out if we break their back. There comes a point where they are so demoralized they can't do the job. And I feel we're at a breaking point to be perfectly honest."

This is not the final word. Her budget now goes to the Legislature. You can expect a fight from the Federation.

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