Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Visits Maryland State Workers

State and local governments across the nation are reeling from declining revenues, and balancing budgets on the backs of employees is certainly not unique to the state of Washington. Our AFSCME affiliate in Maryland released a humorous but also poignant video in response to the state's efforts to cut spending. WFSE members will be able to relate.

-- Dennis

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Governor Budget Proposal Highlights (and Lowlights)

I'm saving any and all editorial or analytical comments for another time. For now, I just want to provide our reader(s) with the nuts and bolts of the Governor's 2009-11 budget proposal. The following is a quick list of cuts by functional area:


- Suspension of career and wage ladder for child care teachers.
- Suspension of the Family, Friends and Neighbors program.
- Elimination of state funds for the Child Care Resource and Referral Network.


- Suspension of 24% of Initiative 728 (the class size reduction measure).
- Reduce levy equalization funding by 33%.
- Suspension of Initiative 732 (salary increases for teachers and K-12 employees).
- Various grant programs and "lower priority programs" are eliminated or reduced.


- Across the board reductions of 13% for four-year institutions and 6% for community and technical colleges.
- Colleges and universities are given the flexibility to determine how to implement the reductions.
- Colleges and universities are given the authority to increase tuition for resident undergraduate students: up to $450/year for research institutions, up to $310/year for TESC and the regional universities, and up to $125/year for community and technical colleges.
- Suspension of Initiative 732 (salary increases for faculty and staff in the community and technical colleges).


- Elimination of supervision for misdemeanants and low-risk felony offenders, and setting community custody sentence lengths at 12 months for most offenders.
- Closure of Naselle Youth Camp (JRA).
- Reduction of funding to expand evidence-based programs in JRA.
- Reduction of chemical dependency treatment funding for adult outpatient and residential services.
- Authorization of early release for elderly and ill offenders.
- Deportation of non-citizen offenders.


- Discontinuation of the Adult Day Health Program.
- Elimination of funding for child welfare pilots.
- Elimination of secure crisis residential centers.
- Reduction of nursing home reimbursement rates.
- Closure of Yakima Valley School (DD institution).
- Reduction of funding for mental health services through local RSNs.
- Elimination of grants to individuals in the GA-U program and in the ADATSA program.
- Increase accountability in the WorkFirst program by streamlining the sanction process and helping parents move to work more quickly.


- Reduction of funding for the Basic Health Plan by 42%.
- Suspend funding of subsidized health care coverage to children whose family incomes are between 250% and 300% of the federal poverty level.
- Eliminate medical coverage for the GA-U program.
- Reduction of rates paid to managed care companies.
- Reduction of rates paid to hospitals.
- Elimination of the universal vaccine program.


- Closure of state fish hatcheries.
- Closure of 13 state parks and one environmental learning center completely, and closing other state parks during winter months.
- Reduction of local watershed management technical and financial assistance.
- Elimination of funding for geologic hazard studies.
- Reduction in funding for water resource management, including processing of water rights permits.


- Closure of the Visitor Center and reduction of several GA services, including those related to real estate and public and historic facilities.
- Reduction of state pass-through funding for Washington Information Network 211 (CTED).
- Suspension of state grants to public broadcasters (CTED).
- Elimination of funding for Dispute Resolution Centers (CTED).
- Reduction of Growth Management Act funding for technical assistance to local governments (CTED).
- Elimination of funding to train National Guard members as firefighters.


- Regional Mobility Grants and Trip Reduction Performance Program funding are redirected to other commute reduction activities.
- Elimination of the Sidney-San Juan Islands ferry route.
- Reduction of ferry service on the Point Defiance-Tahlequah run.


- Funding for all collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Governor is eliminated.
- Pension funding is reduced by 46.8%.
- The state employee share for health care benefits remains at 12%.

The bottom line is the Governor cuts roughly $3.3 billion from the 2009-11 maintenance level budget, assumes about $1 billion in increased funds from the federal government for economic stimulus (although Congress has yet to pass such a package), fills the rest of the gap with the rainy day fund and other fund transfers.

Stay tuned. We'll try to keep everyone posted as we learn more. -- Dennis

Gregoire's Statement On Salaries

In the Budget & Policy Highlights document for Governor Gregoire's proposed 2009-2011 budget, the following statement appears regarding why she is proposing that our collective bargaining agreement be rejected:

"Specific laws govern the granting of cost-of-living adjustments or raises to teachers, state employees and care workers.

These hardworking individuals provide immeasurably valuable services to the people of our state. They teach our kids, protect us from dangerous offenders, guard against environmental degradation and provide critical social services to our most vulnerable residents. They are well deserving of adjustments to maintain the value of their salaries.

Unfortunately, we had no choice but to put their raises on hold. The cost of these salary increases would be about $678 million over the next two years. We looked hard at whether we could afford these increases during these difficult times, and saw we could not.

Forgoing the raises allowed us to keep classes smaller in our K-12 schools and protect early learning and teachers’ jobs, as well as avoid even deeper cuts to services for our most vulnerable and health care for children and families.

Governor Gregoire has the highest regard for our teachers, state employees and those who serve the most vulnerable. She is hopeful that our economic situation will improve quickly so funding for salary increases becomes available in the state budget."

-- Dennis

Gov. Gregoire Press Conference On 2009-11 Budget Proposal

Quick Notes On the Governor's Budget Proposal

I attending a briefing this morning on elements of the Governor's budget proposal, and I took notes as best as I could.

Overall: None of the collective bargaining agreements -- including WFSE's -- are funded. However, the Governor does retain the funding to keep the employee share for health care benefits at 12%. She proposes suspending several initiatives, including the long term care training initiative that passed in November. Her budget also assumes our state will receive $1 billion in federal economic stimulus funds.

DOC: Community corrections is hit hard. Supervision is eliminated for many offenders, and others will have their supervision reduced. The Governor also cuts offender transition funding and recommends the deportation of criminal illegal aliens. She does maintain enhanced supervision of sex offenders and victims programs.

JRA: There are cuts in community-based programs and the Governor recommends closing Naselle Youth Camp.

Economic Services: The Governor maintains funding for TANF and food stamp eligibility, but proposes eliminating the bulk of the GAU program.

Health Care: The biggest cut is a proposed 42% reduction in the BHP. SCHIP is capped at 250% of federal poverty level, nursing home reimbursements are reduced, and there are a multitude of additional cuts in health care and long term care programs.

Human Services: The Governor's proposal protects contract provider rates, but eliminates all pilot projects related to foster care -- including the WFSE-supported intensive foster home pilot -- cuts prevention services, eliminates the Council on Children & Families, the Family Policy Council, community networks, and crisis residential centers.

In mental health, Medicaid rates are reduced, and there's a 7.5% reduction in nonmedicaid rates.

In developmental disabilities the Governor proposes the closure of Yakima Valley School and also proposes to close all three heated swimming pools in the RHCs. Other DD services are maintained, but there are no new residential slots for nonwaiver clients.

The housing trust fund is cut by 50%, and chemical dependency programs take a significant cut, but the Governor does recommend increased funding for homelessness services and food banks.

Remember: These are just my notes from a briefing. Now we're diving into the budget detail as fast as we can. I'll post more when I know more. -- Dennis

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Partners for Our Children

Here's a link to the 12/5 Senate Human Services & Corrections committee work session. The "Partners for our Children" (POC) Executive Director, Mark Courtney, reports on the division of labor between the public and private sectors in the delivery of child welfare services, using other states as examples.