State Workers

State worker briefs

Unions fight state on pension plan

State worker unions say they don't like what they hear from the Legislature on gain sharing, which allows some of their members to share in high returns on pension investments.

Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to eliminate the benefit, and wrote it out of her proposed budget to save $105 million over two years. It had originally thought to be low-cost, only skimming off unusually high returns in the stock market and other investments.

"We believe that gain sharing should remain. It's not our members fault, not our retirees fault that there was some bad accounting," said Leslie Liddle, executive director of the Washington Public Employees Association.

But none of the proposed alternatives to Gregoire's plan include much of a replacement, she added.

"Everyone says it's going to go through. Obviously, we don't think it should go through," said Tim Welch, spokesman for the Washington Federation of State Employees.

Welch said he expects the final verdict on gain sharing to come in the budget bill, which is usually the last or near-last bill passed before the Legislature adjourns.

Natural Resource board gets addition

Pacific County Commissioner Jon Kaino has joined the Washington State Board of Natural Resources BNR. Kaino was chosen for this position by 20 Washington counties that own forestlands managed by the State Department of Natural Resources to generate revenue for their local governments.

Kaino replaces Skagit County Commissioner Ted Anderson who served for two years on the Board and vacated his position in December of 2006.

Formed in 1957 when the Washington State Department of Natural Resources was created, the Board of Natural Resources establishes policies to govern the sustainable management of state trust lands, including establishing the sustainable harvest level for forested trust lands. The Board authorizes the sale of timber and minerals from trust lands and the sale or exchange of trust land property.

Adam Wilson