As the June 30 deadline approaches for legislators to strike a budget deal, more than 25,000 state workers are slated to receive temporary layoff notices and dozens of state agencies are bracing for a potential government shutdown.
Gov. Jay Inslee‘s budget and legal advisers on Thursday laid out contingency plans in case of a shutdown, even as his staff said the governor remains “optimistic” that lawmakers will reach an agreement.
Without a two-year operating budget in place, 30 state agencies would be completely shut down — including the Liquor Control Board, Services for the Blind and Washington State Parks. All camping reservations at state parks would be cancelled, days before the Fourth of July holiday.
Another 25 state agencies would be partially shutdown. The state Department of Social and Health Services, for example, would suspend about two-thirds of its services, including adoption programs, immigrant state food assistance and family support services.
Eastern and Western State Hospitals, the state’s psychiatric wards, will remain operational, as well as child protective services. Medicaid would temporarily continue for several weeks until a federally-mandated termination process begins.
The Department of Corrections will stop accepting new transfers to state prisons, instead asking county jails to hold the offenders. Community supervision of offenders would be significantly scaled back.
In 2013, legislators also came close to a government shutdown, reaching a budget deal only three days before the deadline.
Director of the Office of Financial Management David Schumacher said his office used contingency plans submitted by state agencies in 2013 as a starting point for the current shutdown preparations.
“This time as we’ve gone through, it’s been much more straightforward,” he said. “A lot of these questions have been wrestled with previously.”
The decisions about which government services will continue during a shutdown are based on a legal analysis of constitutional mandates and federal law, he said. Government services can also continue in case of an emergency or risk to public safety.
Temporary layoff letters will be sent to state employees next Tuesday. Schumacher acknowledged the letters will “generate anxiety,” although he said he doesn’t believe a shutdown will actually occur.
“I do think it is likely that letters will go out on the 23rd. I think would be wildly optimistic to think we’ll have a deal by then,” Schumacher said.
TVW taped the press conference — watch it at this link.