How government shutdown could impact state agencies

Governor Jay Inslee discusses the impacts of a potential government shutdown in Washington state.

Almost 32,000 state employees would be temporarily laid off if state lawmakers don't reach a budget deal by July 1.

The shutdown would impact 19 state agencies, the Office of Financial Management said. Some employees would have reduced hours instead of a full layoff.

Every two years, a new budget is approved in Washington. The last two times the budget deadline has come around, in 2013 and 2015, the governor didn't sign the budget until June 30, hours before the deadline. 

KING 5 reached out to several agencies to find out what the shutdown would mean for the department and Washington residents. 

"Communicable Disease Monitoring and Prevention will be hit hard," a spokesman from the Department of Health said. "Managing the threat of disease through monitoring, investigating outbreaks, identifying causes and preventing more cases is a core public health service; however, if the state government shuts down, this service we provide will be suspended or greatly minimized."

In a letter to nearly 10,000 Department of Social and Health Services employees, they were notified they'd be placed on emergency leave without pay. 

"This circumstance is not a reflection on your work or your commitment and dedication to public service. The work you do every day to transform lives is so very important," David Stewart, the senior director of human resources, wrote to employees. "We sincerely hope a budget will be in place."  

The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs would also shut down. Behavior health counselors, who help around 2,000 veterans statewide, would not be able to provide their services, a spokesperson said. 

A government shutdown would prevent homeless and unemployed veterans from receiving grants, the internship program would be halted, and Veteran Service Organizations would not receive funding to pay service officers or file claims to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Washington's Department of Ecology is trying to stay optimistic that a budget is passed in time, a spokesperson said, but also taking precautions to prepare for a shutdown. 

More than 1,500 employees would lose their jobs temporarily. No one would be available for spills, inspections, dams, permits, environmental complaints, samples, environmental reviews, or testing, the spokesperson said. 

Construction of wastewater treatment plant upgrades, habitat restoration projects and cleaning up toxic sites would also be halted. 

Some other agencies affected include: Department of Social and Health Services, Health Care Authority, Department of Corrections, Washington State Patrol, State Parks, Department of Ecology, and the Department of Commerce. Check out the full list of affected agencies

State-supported Senior Services for South Sound serves free meals to an estimated 50,000 seniors across the state. The government shutdown would stop its operations. 

"They have to get it done," said Lauraine Carlson, who enjoys the free meals. "To take that away from these senior citizens, I think is a crime." 

KING 5 is waiting to hear back from more state agencies. Drew Mikkelsen reports tonight on KING 5 News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2017 KING-TV


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