Our Sunday editorial about the governor’s plan to downsize state government made a vague reference to the “cacophony” she’s bound to stir. Actually, the hue and cry was already mounting well before she unveiled her plan last week.
The state is now fighting 50 lawsuits, grievances and unfair labor practice complaints from employees and their unions, according to Gov. Gregoire’s budget director, Marty Brown. Many of the claims arise from steps lawmakers have taken to balance the state budget, including layoffs and changes to employee health care plans.
Just last week, the Washington Federation of State Employees filed suit to block state government’s plan to furlough a third of state workers on 10 days over the next year. The union claims the furloughs violate the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the state constitutional prohibition against contract impairment. If the union’s successful, it could blow a $38 million hole in the general fund budget.
But the state hasn’t seen anything yet – not if Gregoire is to truly succeed at reshaping how the state operates and delivers services. A lot of people have a vested interest in the status quo. Expect to hear from each and every one of them. If you don’t, you’ll know Gregoire’s plan doesn’t go nearly as far as it needs to go to right the state budget.