Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget office said Tuesday that state agencies plan 725 more job cuts to answer her call for 6.3 percent across-the-board spending reductions in the coming months.
The Democratic leader ordered the cuts last month, and they began taking effect Friday. But agencies still were sending their spending-reduction plans to Gregoire all last week, and some non-Cabinet agencies have until midmonth to finish their plans.
In addition to cutting jobs outright or eliminating vacant positions, five agencies plan additional furloughs, or temporary layoffs. Those furloughs are in addition to the 10 unpaid furlough days that roughly one-third of general government employees already are scheduled for over the year ending in June.
“There isn’t anything we’ve seen yet that we feel we needed to overturn – in the short term,” said Glenn Kuper, spokesman for Gregoire’s Office of Financial Management, referring to agency proposals. “There are some things we are going to look hard at when the supplemental budget time comes to see if there is a way to blunt some of the cuts in social services.”
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State government already has eliminated about 3,000 positions in the past year and a half, Kuper said. Additional temporary layoffs are at the departments of Social and Health Services, Corrections and Revenue (on a voluntary basis), as well as the Eastern Washington Historical Society and the Washington State Historical Society, he said.
Kuper described some of the cuts, such as ending prescription drug coverage for outpatient care under Medicaid, as “worrisome.” The state Medicaid director also plans to end subsidized health insurance coverage for some 27,000 children in lower-income homes.
The pending agency layoffs include the equivalent of 680.7 full-time jobs in human services agencies, 35.3 in governmental operations, 14.5 in natural resources and recreation, 3.3 in education and 0.8 at the Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The human services cuts include 368.2 full-time equivalents at DSHS. An additional 277 human-services job cuts are at the Department of Corrections, which is looking at closing its Larch Corrections Center near Vancouver, and 6.6 are at the Department of Health.[UPDATE: OFM says its original estimate of 31 DOH jobs was in error.]
The government operations cuts include 9.8 positions at OFM, 3.4 in the Governor’s Office, 5.3 at Revenue, 2.5 at Commerce, 1.6 at the Public Disclosure Commission, 1.3 at the Military Department and portions of jobs at other agencies, such as 0.3 at the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.
The natural-resources cuts include 12.6 positions at Ecology, 1.5 at the State Conservation Commission and 0.4 at the Environmental Hearings Office.
Some agencies have until Oct. 15 to submit the rest of their proposals, so details for Fish and Wildlife, the community colleges board and others are pending.
DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley said his agency has determined that 100 of the job cuts in its Children’s Administration will come out of administrative positions. Other details, such as which workers lose jobs, are still being worked out across the state’s largest agency.
The OFM list of DSHS cuts – by division or subagency – includes nearly 65 at Juvenile Rehabilitation, 59 at Developmental Disabilities, 50 in Mental Health, nearly 40 at Long-term Care, 33.6 at the Special Commitment program and 14.4 in administration and supporting services.
Gregoire ordered the across-the-board cuts after the September revenue forecast showed the state would be in the red by $520 million by June. Her budget office is preparing a separate budget plan for the two-year cycle that begins July 1. A $4.5 billion shortfall is predicted if voter-approved public education improvements, pension and other carry-forward costs are included.
Update: The Office of Financial Management said its estimate of job losses at the Department of Health was in error. The correct number is 6.6 (down from 31).