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).

December 2, 2011

Members rally for children


Members from the University of Washington, Children’s Services and Western State Hospital joined the "Protect Our Future/Protect Kids" children's rally at the Capitol Friday.


The union’s Children’s Administration Union Management Communication Committee team walked out of their meeting with DSHS management Friday morning over the agency's ongoing refusal “to do anything substantive to alleviate workload,” said the union's Jeanine Livingston.

They then trekked to the Capitol to fill the hearing room for the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee as a show of strength after the walkout. They wore “Respect” stickers to show what the real issue is.

“They tell us at every meeting why they can’t do something we suggest, yet they never come with a plan or something they can do,” Livingston said. “Workload has been an issue since 2007 with no movement. Yet we see expedited implementation of what management makes a priority. We told management that until dealing with workload becomes a meaningful priority, there's nothing more to talk about.”

Special Session Week 1 - Recap

As move into more action at the Capitol and, more importantly, back home in legislative districts, it’s a good time to sum up some of the testimony given at budget hearings and rallies this week.

Senate Ways and Means Committee, 11/28/11

Federation Executive Director Greg Director joined more than 160 other speakers in calling for revenue and a stop to cuts.

“In 18 years of doing this work, I don’t think I’ve every seen a hearing like this,” Devereux said. “I suspect at the end of the day, all 162 people who have testified will be saying to you that we need revenue. I don’t think I’ve every seen that unanimity in anything up here before.

“Our message…is very simple. We need to stop the cuts. We do need to raise the revenue.”

All week long, Federation members have been passing out a compilation of tax giveaways that could be closed to save public safety, public services and higher education. This is just one option in the push for new revenue to stop further drastic cuts.

“Our members understand the financial straits we’re in,” Devereux added. “They see the devastation every day in the services they’re trying to provide.

“Closing the Frances Haddon Morgan Center last year saved no money. But one of those residents has since died in the community. And that didn’t happen in the previous 20 years.

“Closing Maple Lane didn’t save money, but it’s resulted in a lot of confusion in our juvenile rehab system.

Passing 5931 (the bill creating the Department of Enterprise Services and Consolidated Technology Services agency) last year saved no money, but it took away collective bargaining rights for state employees and left them at the whims of some of their bosses.

“Enough is enough.

“The Occupy movement and the backlash against banks and corporations indicate the public is looking for a better way to protect our communities than an all-cuts budget.

“Closing Yakima Valley School, Rainier State School, additional mental health beds, eliminating Medicaid interpreters, seeking further takeaways from state employees who’ve already had furloughs, wage cuts, health cuts – those aren’t the answers.

“State workers and many other groups have already taken their fair share. It is time – if 162 people can come before you and say raise revenue, it’s time for all the legislators of all parties to raise revenue.”

Public Safety Matters, 11/30/11

    At the rally to expose the excesses of the wealthiest 1 percent, Ginger Richardson, president of King County State Corrections Local 308, called the all-cuts budget “a threat to public safety in so many ways.”

    The proposed budget would slash supervision of dangerous offenders released from prison in the community.

    “You may not know this, but Community Corrections officers make a difference in your lives,” Richardson told the rally crowd. “They’re in your communities. And they’re your neighbors.

    “Without me and my other professionals keeping an eye on them, they are out there waiting to do more bad things and create more victims.”

Higher Education cuts pricing our kids out of an education, 11/30/11

    Pam Carl, the Federation’s Volunteer Member Organizing coordinator whose daughter attends a community college, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee Nov. 30 that it’s cheaper for Washington students to go out of state.

    She said her research showed that the in-state tuition at Washington State University is $9,886 a year, while the out-of-state tuition at Oregon State University is more than $2,000 less, at $7,756 a year.

    “As a taxpayer and a resident of this state, I find it appalling,” Carl said.

    The proposed budget slashes state funding for state colleges and universities from 13 percent to 17 percent.

    “The $160 million-plus in cuts in the governor’s proposed supplemental budget robs the future of our children,” Carl said. “We are in danger of falling to the bottom of the list of states when it comes to the quality of our higher education system.”

Senate Ways and Means Committee, 12/1/11

    At the Senate budget hearing on human services programs, Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich took time to urge saving the four wards at Western State Hospital and the medical interpreters program, plus two programs that haven’t always been in the spotlight this week.

    On the proposed closure of Rainier School in Buckley:

“It would be taking away one of four or five people in the whole world that know how to communicate with a vulnerable adult that doesn’t communicate normally,” Zuvich said. “Displacing and closing that facility would put them into the community and the people that have worked with them all their lives would not necessarily go with them.”

    On the cuts to Juvenile Parole:

“Those kids that they now serve and hook up with critical services that help prevent them from going on into a lot more severe life of criminality won’t get those services and that we would end up paying for them later.”

Zuvich summed up the week well: It’s the revenue, folks:

“I think it’s time to face facts,” he said. “We don’t have a budget problem, we have a revenue problem. Those who would say that we can fix this problem with all cuts need to talk to my members. And we’ll be here and we’ll find you and all you have to do is let us in the door and we’ll tell you just how bad it is right now.”

December 1, 2011

Stop cuts, find revenue message hitting home as legislator annouces bill to roll back some 160 tax giveaways, raise revenue

At yesterday’s Capitol campus rally against the excesses of the wealthiest 1 percent, Rep. Chris Reykdal of the 22nd District said he’ll introduce legislation next week to close some 160 tax breaks and make other changes to raise revenue to protect public safety, public services and higher education.

He told the crowd of about 200 his bill will also create jobs.

He said the court fight challenging the constitutionality of Tim Eyman’s initiative requiring an undemocratic two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise revenue also continues.

“It recognizes that the 99 percent make this country great,” he said. “We are not great despite government, we are great because of government….We can do this. Go tell the fat cats we can do this.”

And the crowd did just that marching off campus to the state headquarters of the Association of Washington Business.

So the news from Day 3 shows someone is listening to the 99 percent. Reykdal’s plan will go far beyond the Federation compilation of 27 tax giveaways from six groups that could be cut to find revenue.