April 4, 2011

House budget unveiled

The devil’s in the details but there is both encouraging and discouraging news in the House majority Democrats’ budget plan unveiled today. It’s PSHB 1087.


In no particular order:

      • Contracts. The House plan honors the negotiated contracts. We are analyzing language as it may affect the three higher ed contracts still in negotiation at UW, TESC and the Community College Coalition.

      • Higher Education cuts. The plan would cut $353.8 million in funding at state colleges and universities.

      • Juvenile Rehabilitation. The House budget would close Maple Lane School by June 30, 2011. We’ll wait to see if Rep. Gary Alexander’s Republican alternative budget coming out tomorrow would save Maple Lane. Alexander has championed Maple Lane.

      • Natural Resources. The House budget assumes increases in user fees for parks, fish and wildlife and Natural Resources, including provisions in HB 1796 – The Discover Pass bill, HB 2008 – Raising Hydraulic Project Approval fees and HB 1387 – Raising hunting and fishing license fees.
      •  Sex offenders. The House budget would cut staffing ratios in Secure Community Transitional Facilities, which are satellites of the main Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

      • Corrections. The House budget would release certain offenders into the community 120 days earlier. It would eliminate tolling for offenders. It would fund a change to risk assessment designed especially for sex offenders. Community Corrections is apparently not included in the Corrections safety measures.

      • Interpreter services. The House budget calls for a contract with one statewide agency or a few regional agencies for interpreter services. And they may use an electronic scheduling system. They’ll use telephonic and video technologies, along with in-person interpretation. But we’re analyzing for details on whether this is the appropriate mix or not.

      • Agency consolidation. The House budget does not include any consolidation of natural resource agencies. On the governor’s proposed Consolidated Technology Services plan, the House budget references the language in HB 1841 that retains collective bargaining and civil service rights for affected employees. The House does include a new Department of Enterprise Services, folding in General Administration, OFM and DOP, and a Department of Heritage, Arts and Culture, taking in the current Arts Commission among other agencies.

      • Pensions. The House budget would freeze PERS 1 COLAs.

      • Children’s Administration. The House budget would  cut 244 positions in DSHS Children’s Administration.

                      The Our Economic Future Coalition called the cuts in the entire budget plan “unsustainable” and will lead to more expensive problems in the future. 
                         CALL TO ACTION:


                        Call your legislators at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to support a budget bill (HB 1087) that does the following:

                        1. Ratifies the state employee contracts as agreed to by the unions and the employer.

                        2. Protects workers and clients from institutional closures.

                        3. Retains funding for medical interpreters required by Medicaid eligible LEP patients.

Preserves early retirement incentives state employees receive in exchange for ending our opposition to the creation of PERS 3.

                        5. Supports user fees necessary to retain critical natural resource agencies and services.

                        6. Supports public safety.

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