On Friday, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) certified that more than $583 million in state employee union pay hikes—contracts Jay Inslee agreed to as a reward for his campaign donors—are “financially feasible.” As the Olympian reports, that determination “frees Inslee to include the contracts in his proposed two-year budget.”
Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia expressed skepticism over OFM’s determination of feasibility. He said, “I think our caucus would say that (determination) is interesting. I’m not sure we’ll come to the same conclusion.”
In September, OFM warned lawmakers that “revenue growth for 2015–17 will fall far short of what will be needed to maintain current services, cover mandatory increases and provide an additional $1 billion to $2 billion to meet the state’s constitutional basic education obligations.” This statement is at odds with last week’s determination of financial feasibility for more than $583 million in labor contracts.
If Washington State faces a financial struggle to fully fund K-12 education, as ordered by the State Supreme Court’s McClearly decision, how is it feasible for taxpayers to also foot the bill for $583 million in state employee union pay hikes? The passage of Washington Education Association’s budget busting I-1351 adds even more pressure on the state budget.
Democrat state Rep. Ross Hunter, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, expressed frustration over our state’s existing budget demands. He recently said, “I don’t know how you fund McCleary and 1351.” Add an additional $583 million in labor contracts and it would seem our state Legislature has the makings of a financial impossibility at hand rather than a financial feasibility.