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Category: State budget


PEBB outlines employee health rates for 2014 that show a few small premium increases

State employees may get another dose of good news soon. The Public Employees Benefits Board received a briefing Wednesday on what 2014 health-insurance premiums could look like for current and retired employees, and the news is pretty good.

A few plans show rates going up slightly and a few go down. The PEBB, which is made up of representatives of personnel offices, unions and retirees, is scheduled to adopt the new rates schedule [pages 5-10] on Wednesday, July 17. Employees can enroll for coverage  in the fall.

The premium news comes as

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Officials say cost of government shutdown preparations was borne by staffers, not taxpayers

Threats of a government shutdown were a distraction and caused anxiety for a lot of state employees last month, but state officials say they doubt the Legislature’s logjam on a budget added real costs for taxpayers. ”I don’t think there would be an actual cost,” state budget director David Schumacher said in an interview, adding that it unquestionably added to the workload of top staffers in state agencies. “It just kind of filled up a lot of time they could have been working on other things.”

No tally of costs is planned because, as Schumacher put it, it would add just

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Inslee signs tech-spending bill that is stripped of contracting out language

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law Wednesday that aims to bring more security and results from the state’s estimated $1 billion a year outlay for information technology and services.

I’ve written a print story about Senate Bill 5891 for print editions of The Olympian and News Tribune. One high profile element of the bill requires state agencies and universities to have IT security plans and gives the state’s relatively new chief information officer, Michael Cockrill, a leading role in setting standards for that security.

The legislation also creates a purchasing pool for technology projects, lets smaller pilot projects bypass

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UPDATE – Budget deal to use ‘pilot projects’ to let some part time employees get healthcare via Obamacare exchange

Senate Ways and Means chairman Andy Hill says the handshake budget agreement reached with the House negotiators at 10:40 a.m. Thursday does not force part time state or K-12 employees into the Obamacare health exchange to get their health coverage.  Instead, the goal is to try pilot projects that a limited number of unions could opt to consider, Hill said.

The Republican budget writer spoke shortly after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the budget agreement in a minute-long press conference.

Labor unions including the Washington Federation of State Employees had been strongly opposed to any mandatory push that created a two-tier

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State workers in ‘wait-and-see’ mode as layoff warnings go out

As state employees began receiving notices Monday that they could be furloughed starting July 1, worry and uncertainty prevailed at many offices.

Some state workers remained optimistic that lawmakers would pass a budget in time to avoid any temporary layoffs, while others expressed frustration that the Legislature, which is in the middle of a second 30-day overtime session to finalize a two-year spending plan, still hadn’t completed its work.

Should lawmakers fail to pass a budget before June 30, a government shutdown will begin July 1, completely closing 34 state offices and partially shutting down 24 others, state officials said last

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Gov. Inslee’s budget office puts out list showing how agencies are affected if state government shuts down July 1

Gov. Jay Inslee‘s budget office put out a preliminary plan this morning for shutting down state agencies in the event the Legislature’s budget stalemate prompts a government shutdown next month. July 1 is when the new budget cycle begins and most state agencies will lack legal authority to spend, incur debt or keep running.

Obvious exceptions are state prisons and hospitals that will continue operating under partial shutdowns, as will all of the state treasurer’s operations. Community colleges and universities also will continue operating in the short term but state parks would close completely. The Department of Corrections would also

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State officials telling labor unions that July 10 paychecks will go out – even in a government shutdown

Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget office and lobbying team are working to win a budget deal in the Legislature that prevents a government shut down on July 1. But if no budget jells and a shutdown ensues on July 1, paychecks based on work done in June should go out to employees on July 10 as usual, unions say they are being told.

Several labor groups were briefed by Office of Financial Management director David Schumacher on Thursday and Friday, and they reported that OFM’s team  made clear the July 10 pay date will be honored. Money would come from taxes collected

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Evergreen college labor talks now in mediation; Tuesday strike looking more likely

Greg Devereux of the Washington Federation of State Employees / 2010 file photo by Olympian photographer  Steve Bloom

Negotiators for a fledgling support-services union failed to reach agreement and administrators at The Evergreen State College in their final bargaining talks this week, and a two-hour mediation session also did not bear fruit Wednesday. With a date set Tuesday for a possible strike, Student Support Services Staff Union leaders say they still hope to work out a two-year agreement in a second day of mediation planned Thursday.

State workers in Washington “do not have a legally protected

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