OLYMPIA — State officials on Thursday explained what will happen if parts of government shut down July 1, and it could be a mess.
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 to sign by June 30.
Thousands of state workers will be temporarily laid off, community supervision of hundreds of convicted criminals will halt and state-supported child care won’t be provided for many children in low-income families.
And an estimated 128,000 vacationers bound for state parks for the July 4 weekend would need to make other plans. Parks will be closed and their reservations for cabins, yurts and campgrounds canceled, which could cost the state nearly $2 million if every one of them sought a refund.
But David Schumacher, the governor’s budget director, said he and Inslee are optimistic such dire consequences won’t come to pass.
“The governor is hopeful we’ll get this done,” said Schumacher, who has attended the almost-daily 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 Democrat-controlled House and Republican-run Senate have been unable to reach agreement for weeks. They came up empty in the regular session that ended in April and are still deadlocked two-thirds of the way through a second special session.
They are stuck on how much money to spend and where that money will come from. House Democrats had been insisting on passage of a capital gains tax to cover the costs. They appeared to step back from that demand Wednesday.
“It has never been the only option,” House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said in a statement. “If the Senate Republicans don’t like a capital gains solution, they need to suggest an alternative to support a sustainable operating budget.”
Senate Republicans contend additional revenue isn’t needed, and it’s unclear if they are willing to consider any options such as closing tax breaks in pursuit of a deal.
In 2013, when the two chambers were locked in a similar impasse, lawmakers didn’t reach a deal until June 27. They passed the budget June 28 and the governor signed it June 30.
Starting Friday, temporary layoff notices were to be sent to roughly 25,000 state workers. The state has already warned private contractors they might not get paid if there is no budget.
State parks officials said they plan to begin notifying reservation holders on Monday. They’ll give them a choice: call and cancel for a full refund, or hang on and see what happens. If there is a shutdown, they would still get a chance to their money back.
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 plans. But the state Lottery office would close, as would the Liquor Control Board.
While Inslee would keep working, many in the governor’s office would be temporarily laid off. Similarly, the Department of Social and Health Services would continue some programs that are not dependent on funding from the state budget. Those that rely on state funding are likely to be halted.
Under the Department of Corrections plan, new offenders would be sent to county jails instead of being moved to men’s and women’s prison reception centers, and 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; firstname.lastname@example.org.