April 5, 2011

House budget includes blueprint for closing Frances Haddon Morgan Center, Yakima Valley School; Maple Lane School closure short-sighted


There’s much to like in the proposed 2011-2013 Operating Budget unveiled Monday by House Democrats – but the details of the PSHB 1087 budget bill include a death sentence for Frances Haddon Morgan Center and Yakima Valley School.

The word “closure” is never used, but in Section 205 (2)(d), the House budget declares “the state is consolidating” residential habilitation centers, it will “cease placements” at the Morgan Center and YVS and “relocate current clients” to “alternative placements."

“The budget emphasizes privatization,” Federation Lobbyist Alia Griffing told the House Ways and Means Committee at its one public hearing Monday on HB 1087.

“This will trade well-trained state workers for low-wage private-sector workers with far less training and a profit motive."

Federal law mandates that clients have a choice, but closing two RHCs tilts the playing field away from choice, Griffing said.


Griffing also assailed the continued proposal for fast-track (June 30, 2011) closure of Maple Lane School, a facility for juvenile offenders in south Thurston County.

Residents and staff have not received the necessary transition services, she said.

“We think this rush to close Maple Lane School is one that will be regretted once the transition concerns manifest,” Griffing said. “(The budget is) dismantling a world-class juvenile system with this closure and with other reductions in parole.”


Griffing did thank House budget writers for accepting our new contracts. “We think this is a sacrifice by our members and the associated savings to the state is an example of the collective bargaining process working,” she said.

She thanked them for supporting medical interpreters with administrative efficiencies, but said the 40 percent cut in funding may be too deep and could lead to significant cuts.

And she said the Federation supports the budget proviso’s raising user fees to support natural resource agencies. “We really do see it as a way to save these agencies,” Griffing said.

The House Ways and Means Committee is set to vote on the budget Wednesday with floor action possible later this week. The Republicans are supposed to offer an alternative with an omnibus amendment to be unveiled Wednesday. This is where we’ll see if they proposing saving Maple Lane School.

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