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State Parks Commission Ground Zero on Day 160 of the State Capital Construction Budget Held Hostage

State Parks Commission Ground Zero on Day 160 of the State Capital Construction Budget Held Hostage

On the eve of a major new push by Federation members to break the logjam on the state Capital Construction Budget, today (Sept. 28) we took our case to the state Parks Commission, which met in Spokane. The commission has been outspoken in defining the harm done by lack of a capital budget. The meeting turned poignant when WFSE's Melissa Carpenter told commissioners that just a few miles away, in Spokane's Riverside State Park, one employee this morning received a layoff notice tied to non-action on the Capital Construction Budget.

The commission on Sept. 13 reiterated to legislative leaders the inaction jeopardized $45.7 million for new parks projects. That lack of a budget delays implementing nine projects.

And said Commission Chair Mark O. Brown in that letter:

“We are also very concerned about impacts to our employees and our ability to attract qualified employees in the future.” Some 26 Parks positions are impacted through unfilled vacancies and Oct. 1 layoff notices to 16 staff, Brown said.

Today, the Federation’s Regional Field Supervisor reiterated the need for a state Capital Construction Budget – for Parks and all of us.

Here’s is Carpenter’s statement:

“My name is Melissa Carpenter.  I am speaking on behalf of the 40,000 members in the Washington Federation of State Employees. 

“Our members are strongly invested in the success and needs of the state.  We work hard to ensure that every Washingtonian receives the very best that public service has to offer. 

“I am here today first to thank you for your recent letter to our legislative leaders communicating the need to pass the 2017-2019 biennial capital budget.  We too are concerned about the impact to not just our members but to all Washingtonians by hindering one of our state’s greatest assets, our parks. 

“I just learned one of our members at Riverside State Park received a layoff notice this morning.  While we can all understand the great personal impact on this particular individual, the impact does not stop there.  The loss of this individual demonstrates a loss of technical expertise, and the ability to recruit and retain quality staff.  

“In addition, the continued lack of a capital budget impacts economic development opportunities and the good work our members do on parks around the state like on the cabins at the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park, the reallocation of funds for building the road at the Fiske property also in Riverside State Park, the proposed relocation of the maintenance shed at Mt. Spokane, and the potential for future projects like the John Wayne Rail Trail that you were just hearing testimony on today. 

“The Washington Federation of State Employees appreciates your recognition on this important matter. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment.”