Inslee proposes funding for negotiated pay raises, boosting mental health, Children’s, parks

inslee-pressGov. Jay Inslee on Thursday morning (Dec. 18) proposed a two-year budget that funds all of the negotiated pay raises you ratified this past fall – for most the first general wage increases since 2008 – the longest state employees have gone without one since at least 1960.

The governor is recommending the modest cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) negotiated by all the Federation bargaining teams.

For state agency and higher education members, that’s 3 percent on July 1, 2015, and 1.8 percent on July 1, 2016. (Some contracts may have additional compensation.)

Inslee also proposes funding the new Health Care Agreement that goes in all contracts. This affects premium costs in 2016 and 2017. The Health Care Agreement would continue the current premium split under which the state pays an average of 85 percent and the employee pays an average of 15 percent.
se-chartSee more on the budget online:

Inslee also proposes reinvesting in the infrastructure and resources that Washington’s citizens need to keep this state a good place to live and raise families.

That includes:

• Increasing mental health funding, including boosting bed capacity to prevent inappropriate boarding of psychiatric patients.

Inslee proposes: 145 more mental health beds to prevent inappropriate boarding of patients – a practice the state Supreme Court ordered must end; a new 30-bed forensic ward at Western State Hospital, five more beds at Eastern State Hospital and 49 more staff to address rising mental health demands; a new 30-bed civil admissions ward at Western State Hospital to prevent “psychiatric boarding”; funding to improve ability to keep up with mental hospitals’ demand for competency evaluations; a psychiatric intensive care unit at Western State Hospital; and hiring of 23 staff to expand the psychiatric emergency response team at Western.

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• Hiring more than 100 child protective and child welfare services workers to speed up investigations of abuse and neglect, and ensure safe conditions for children in foster care.

The governor asks for 50 more Child Protective Service staff to address the number of reports of child abuse or neglect, quicker contact and allows all investigations to be completed within 90 days. Inslee also wants 57 child and family welfare staff to improve the conditions and treatment of children in the state foster care system, and allows for compliance with measures required under the Braam settlement.

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• Boosting staffing levels at State Parks to restore services and catch up on a backlog of maintenance work.

Inslee proposes 91 more staff at state parks to benefit campers and day-use visitors, preserve historical and cultural assets and increase parks maintenance.

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The governor proposes investing in these resources by using a mix of spending cuts, new revenue (including closing five tax loopholes) and reserves. “An all-cuts budget would be devastating,” Inslee said.

One major change he proposes in General Government is to align central information technology services now done within the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Consolidated Technology Services and the Department of Enterprise Services.

One big challenge all Federation members will have to rally to change: One of the $400 million worth of cuts proposed by the governor is reducing salmon production at the George Adams and Hoodsport hatcheries on Hood Canal. That $438,000 in savings could come at the expense of our fish hatchery members’ jobs and the quality investment they provide to us.

Here’s the governor’s position statement on why the Legislature should follow his recommendation and fund the Federation’s negotiated pay raises – the first for most since 2008 – and the new Health Care Agreement that keeps a cap on health care costs.

“The recession took a big bite out of state employee take-home pay

“State employees have not received a general wage increase since 2008 — the longest state employees have gone without one since at least 1960.

“In fact, during the 2011–13 biennium, state employees agreed through collective bargaining to take a temporary 3 percent pay cut to help the state through the Great Recession.

“Meanwhile, state employees continue to pay a larger share of their benefit costs. By 2017, the average employee contribution to medical coverage will be about $176 per month, compared to less than $28 per month in 2001. Employees in the PERS 2 and TRS 2 retirement systems have seen their contribution rates increase from less than 1 percent in 2002 to about 6 percent for the next biennium.

“In 2001, there were nearly 6 million people in Washington and about 64,000 state general government employees. Today, Washington’s population is nearly 7 million and general government employees total about 61,000. Put another way: We have 1 million more people being served by 3,000 fewer state employees.”

The governor’s budget plan now goes to lawmakers. The Legislature convenes Jan. 12.

We’ll be digging more into the entire Inslee budget proposal so expect more details in the coming days and weeks.


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