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Downsizing state budget easier said than done

Post by Kim Bradford on June 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm with 2 Comments »
June 29, 2010 4:43 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. TonyCrago says:

    We need to look at EVERYTHING in this economy. And there are plenty of places to cut. No more breaks for churches. We don’t need to be subsidizing religion here. No more prosecution and incarceration for victimless crimes. Who cares what you smoke or drink or whatever in the privacy of your own home? We need to significantly cut our law enforcement and corrections budgets. Prisons like those in the US and here in Washington state don’t work. We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. It’s time to ignore the calls from the right to get tough on crime. They don’t want to foot the bill for it.

  2. There are laws on the books already that allow the state to declare a financial emergency, and that opens up the existing, binding union contracts to be re-negotiated. Bates College just used a similar law to address their budget issues. The unions whined and moaned, lied and complained, blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day, the college was able to make the necessary cuts legally(think it was 9 faculty out of like 145 faculty members). A quick search of the TNTs site for “Bates” will give you the positions of the union and the posititions of the school administrators. Sure, they had a little backlash from the unions, but the school held the legal and moral high ground. Gregoire has bloated our states government, ate up our rainy day fund. She and her administration are so beholden to the unions, she is afraid to do what is in the states best interest. Declare a financial emergency, ratchet back the pension benefits(which are our LONG TERM budge KILLER and way out of line), renegotiate with the unions for furlough days-force their hand. Go public with the fact that the unions want their members laid off versus furlough days. A hardcore campaign to the public to point out that the unions would rather have their members laid off or downsized then furloughed. (remember the ferry system union issue with the members wanting to forego negotiated raises so layoffs didn’t have to happen-the union threatened to sue its own members!!!)
    Union membership should be voluntary not forced. Many state workers I know hate the fact that they pay to support Christine Gregoire and other politicians with their union dues WITHOUT a choice.

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