This March 23 photo shows the Capitol building in Olympia. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

This March 23 photo shows the Capitol building in Olympia. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

State agencies map out possible cuts to plug budget hole

Layoffs and service cuts loom as state leaders confront a $4B gap due to the COVID pandemic.

OLYMPIA — Layoffs, cuts in human service programs, and delays for a slew of road projects loom if the state is forced to pare billions of dollars in spending in response to a budget crunch brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tax collections are plummeting as a result of the shuttering of much of the economy since late March in an attempt to blunt the spread of coronavirus. Even as the state slowly reopens and the wheels of commerce restart, lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee are facing a potential $4 billion hole in the current budget which runs through mid-2021.

While reserves can plug part of it, Inslee directed state agency leaders to put forth blueprints for cutting 15% in spending from their current budgets. The Office of Financial Management posted their responses online Monday.

With lawmakers expected to convene a special session this summer, the information will provide them and the governor with guideposts for potential cuts.

Almost every one contains layoffs, furloughs, not filling vacancies or forgoing pay hikes.

For the Commission on African American Affairs, it would mean not hiring a person to craft a strategic plan for the panel and a serve on a number of boards and task forces.

For Attorney General Bob Ferguson, it would require eliminating up to 211 full-time-equivalent positions, impacting his office’s provision of legal services for state agencies. Such reductions could mean children remain in Washington’s foster care system longer without permanent homes and vulnerable citizens left in dangerous circumstances, he wrote in his submission.

The Department of Social and Health Services laid out roughly $500 million in cuts for this budget with a large chunk tied to the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, which oversees nursing homes and adult family homes. To achieve the savings, fewer people would be served.

And the Department of Transportation took the approach of deferring projects. In addition, Washington State Ferries would trim service and highway maintenance would be scaled down.

This is a budget cut drill,” said David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management. “You will see there are a lot of terrible things to get to 15%. If we actually had a budget like this it would be horrifying.”

Information from agencies is posted online at www.ofm.wa.gov.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett
Man hurt in house fire east of Everett

The home in the 12400 block of 51st Avenue SE was reported on fire at 12:54 a.m.

A wanted suspect was arrested after a standoff with law enforcement Tuesday night. (Bothell Police Department)
Kidnapping suspect arrested after standoff in Bothell

A large police presence contained the property in the 20500 block of 32nd Dr. SE on Tuesday night.

Community Transit's Lynnwood microtransit pilot project is set to launch this fall with a service area around the Alderwood mall. (Community Transit)
Lynnwood’s microtransit test begins this fall, others possible

Community Transit could launch other on-demand services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens.

Doctor Thomas Robey sits in a courtyard at Providence Regional Medical Center on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘It’d be a miracle’: Providence tests new treatment for meth addiction

Monoclonal antibodies could lead to the first drug designed to fight meth addiction. Everett was chosen due to its high meth use.

Rev. Barbara Raspberry, dressed in her go-to officiating garments, sits in the indoor chapel at her home, the Purple Wedding Chapel, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Everett, Washington. The space used to be two bedrooms, but she and her husband Don took down a wall converted them into a room for wedding ceremonies the day after their youngest son moved out over 20 years ago. The room can seat about 20 for in-person ceremonies, plus it serves as a changing room for brides and is the setting for virtual weddings that Raspberry officiates between brides and their incarcerated fiancees at the Monroe Correctional Complex. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s oh-so-colorful Purple Wedding Chapel is in the red

Rev. Rasberry has hitched hundreds of couples over the years. After her husband died, she’s unsure if she can keep the place.

Everett
Man dies in motorcycle crash that snarled I-5 in Everett

Washington State Patrol: he tried to speed by another driver but lost control and hit the shoulder barrier.

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, right, a Democrat, and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, left, running as a nonpartisan, take part in a debate, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Olympia, Wash., with Melissa Santos, center, of Axios Local, moderating. Hobbs and Anderson are seeking to fill the remaining two years of the term of Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who left to take a key election security job in the Biden administration. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sparks fly as Hobbs, Anderson face off in secretary of state debate

Julie Anderson called Steve Hobbs an “inexperienced political appointee.” He’s been in the job since Inslee put him there in November.

Zion Wright, 6, makes a face as Cecilia Guidarrama starts to massage cold facial cleanser onto his face during Evergreen Beauty College’s annual back-to-school beauty event on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of kids get free back-to-school haircuts in Everett

For hours on Wednesday, training beauticians pampered families at the Everett campus of Evergreen Beauty College.

Jose Espinoza Aguilar appears in court via video for arraignment Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prosecutors: ‘Danger’ shot man in head ‘without provocation or warning’

Jose Espinoza Aguilar had just been released from prison in May for another shooting. He now faces charges of first-degree assault.

Most Read