Will the “nuclear option” occur Wednesday — a state government shutdown? I fervently hope not. I am focusing my energies on getting the state operating budget passed by Tuesday to avoid this.
The House is now proposing a very basic operating budget, to solve the serious problem that significant disagreement continues on many large issues. This is our best hope.
If the Legislature fails to enact a budget compromise by June 30, spending authority for most of state government would cease.
What might a shutdown mean? It would immediately have a negative business impact on Thurston County. Approximately 19,000 state employees would be out of work and out of a paycheck — obviously reducing their spending with local businesses and their ability to support their families. This would affect most legislative employees, including those in my office.
A major exception to layoffs would be those employees paid from the transportation budget, because the Legislature did enact that base budget.
Thousands of already vulnerable, low-income individuals and families would not receive many support services they rely on for their daily lives creating disruption, despair and desperation.
Businesses doing contract work with the state would not be paid, furthering the negative impact here. Transportation projects would be the exception.
Many public works contracts with local governments would stop, if funded by state grants or loans.
All state parks would be closed. People with plans to celebrate the Fourth of July at Millersylvania, Tolmie, various Hood Canal parks or 186 other state parks or state forest recreation sites might consider making contingency plans.
Parolees would be subject to substantially reduced supervision, including sexually violent predators. Public health would be at greater risk, because there would be only one state employee to monitor the entire state for a wide variety of life-threatening emergencies such as diseases, food-borne and water-borne illnesses, and more.
The last time this happened, a budget finally passed at the last minute. This year, we have only a few anxious days to go!
The prospect of this happening for this first time in state history is unsettling and grim. If this occurs, it would represent a failure of our state’s governance system.
In order to avoid the huge negative impacts of a shutdown, we need to compromise and pass a budget before Tuesday.