Lacking a budget, most state agencies could close July 1

By Jerry Cornfield
Everett Herald Writer

OLYMPIA — State officials on Thursday explained what will happen if a partial government shutdown occurs July 1, even though the governor is confident it won’t happen.

Thirty state agencies will completely close and another two dozen will sharply curtail services if lawmakers do not deliver a new budget to Gov. Jay Inslee by June 30.

Thousands of state workers would be laid off, community supervision of hundreds of convicted criminals would halt and throngs of vacationers could see their July 4 weekend plans derailed by the closure of state parks.

But David Schumacher, the governor’s budget director, expressed hope that the dire consequences of a first-ever Washington government shutdown won’t come to pass.

“The governor is hopeful we’ll get this done,” said Schumacher, who has attended budget meetings involving Inslee and legislative leaders. “I still think this won’t happen. I don’t think it is in anyone’s best interests.”

The House and Senate are nearly two-thirds of the way through a second special session, still seeking agreement on a spending plan for the two-year period beginning July 1.

On Friday, the state will begin sending temporary layoff notices to 25,000 workers. The state has already warned private contractors they may not get paid if there is no budget.

Each agency has drawn up a contingency plan laying out what will and will not occur starting July 1.

Public universities and community colleges would remain open, as would prisons and state hospitals, according to the plan. But the state Lottery office would close, as would the Liquor Control Board and state parks.

The governor’s office is among those places that would partially shut down. Inslee would keep working but much of his staff would be temporarily laid off. Similarly, the Department of Social and Health Services would continue some programs and halt others.

And under the Department of Corrections plan, new offenders would be sent to county jails instead of being moved to prison reception centers. Community supervision for all offenders would cease, except for out-of-state offenders supervised under an interstate compact.

You can find the contingency plans for all agencies at www.ofm.wa.gov.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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