Email Washington state lawmakers! Potential impacts of government shutdown

Protester calls for Fair Revenue in Washington StateAs of today, there is no budget agreement in Olympia. If lawmakers can’t reach an agreement within the next two weeks, Washington state could face a partial government shutdown. The cause of the shutdown would be simple: Some lawmakers are refusing to raise fair revenue in order to meet the needs of our families and communities.

Your legislators need to hear from you! Email your lawmakers one simple message: It is time to reach a budget deal by raising fair revenue. Invest in a strong, more equitable Washington state!

POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF A WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN (from the Office of Financial Management):

Department of Social & Health Services
Thousands of individuals and families will experience severe service disruptions or will not be able to access them at all. For example:

  • 12,000 individuals with disabilities will lose vocational rehabilitation services.
  • 29,000 older adults will lose food services.
  • 30,000 low-income, working families will lose child care payment assistance during a high-demand time for care, especially for families working in seasonal agricultural jobs.
  • 30,000 incapacitated adults will not receive basic cash or referrals to housing and other essential services.
  • 200 adolescents in conflict with their families and youth who live on the street will lose access to safe housing.
  • Public assistance fraud detection and investigations will cease, potentially costing the state millions of dollars.
  • More than 10,000 legal immigrants will not receive state-funded food assistance.
  • No staff will be available to connect more than 21,000 WorkFirst clients with resources and activities to help them continue on their path to self-sufficiency.
  • The East and West Mobile Community Services Offices will be closed, leaving Washingtonians in remote rural areas with limited access to services.
  • Services and supervision will be suspended for 200 youth recently released from juvenile rehabilitation facilities. And 150 youth with sex offense histories will receive minimal services.
  • The state’s nine child support offices will be closed. Cash, check and money order payments, which compose roughly 30% of cases (more than 100,000 children), will not be accepted in person.
  • Only current automatic, electronic child support payments will be processed.
  • No new child support orders will be established or processed, affecting up to 3,400 families per month.
  • No proactive work will be done on existing child support cases – including enforcement of orders and any type of customer service.
  • Approximately half the 17,700 employees at DSHS would be temporarily laid off. Exceptions would include employees working in state psychiatric hospitals and residential care centers, and child and adult protective service workers.

Health Care Authority
About 2 million individuals would be affected, including about 1.7 million Apple Health (Medicaid) clients and 350,000 Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) program enrollees.

  • No payments would go to providers offering services to Apple Health clients and PEBB program enrollees. It is unclear how long these providers would be able to continue offering services without payment.
  • No customer service staff would be available to help either Apple Health clients or PEBB program enrollees.
  • Individuals would be able to apply for Apple Health through Healthplanfinder, but if their application requires any review before approval, that will not occur until HCA reopens.
  • If a shutdown lasts longer than a week to 10 days, HCA would have to examine which functions must come back online to avoid violation of Washington’s Medicaid State Plan with the federal government.
  • ProviderOne payments would stop, impacting medical providers as well as social service providers such as adult family homes, supported living, and home care agencies.

Department of Corrections

  • Of the approximately 8,100 employees working for DOC, 3,000 would be temporarily laid off. Roughly 5,100 employees would remain on the job to run the state prisons and perform other essential roles, as required by the Washington State Constitution and federal law.
  • Offenders under community supervision would no longer be put in jail for one to three days for minor violations such as failing a drug test. In a government shutdown, any offenders in jail for such minor violations would be released; as of June 16, this would amount to approximately 1,100 offenders.
  • Anyone now in jail waiting to go to prison would still go to prison. Anyone who enters jail on or after July 1, 2015, on his/her way to prison would remain in jail.
  • There are roughly 17,000 offenders under community supervision. That supervision would be suspended for the vast majority of offenders. The only exceptions are offenders Washington is responsible for supervising under the Interstate Compact.
  • There will be a limited response to requests for GPS tracking alerts for sex offenders, instead of the 24-hour coverage provided now.

Department of Health
The department would have to temporarily lay off nearly 95% of its 1,675 employees and suspend numerous services that protect public health. For example:

  • Public Health Laboratories’ services would be suspended:
    › Shellfish would not be tested for toxins.
    › Marine water quality testing in support of recreational and commercial fisheries would not be provided.
    › The radiation laboratory would be unable to respond to radiological emergencies.
    › Routine disease testing activities would cease for detection and mitigation of outbreaks.
    › Reference laboratory services provided to clinical labs and hospitals would not be available.
    › Newborn screening would operate with minimal staff to focus on the most critical conditions.
    › Central services that affect laboratory operations (safety, training, testing support and outbreak response) would be reduced.
  • Disease outbreak support (tracking, testing and managing disease prevention efforts such as for foodborne illness) would not be provided.
  • Assistance to HIV positive individuals (approximately 4,000) for accessing insurance and medications would be halted.
  • None of the environment-related health programs that DOH regulates would be actively monitored and acted on (only emergencies would be responded to):
    › All shellfish growing areas – commercial and recreational – would be closed.
  • Health service quality assurance services (medical facility inspections, medical professional credentialing and disciplinary investigations) would be suspended.
    › No new health care credentials would be issued.
    › Renewals of health care credentials would be delayed.
    › No disciplinary actions would be processed.
    › Complaints about regulated providers and regulated facilities would not be reviewed and processed.
    › Certificate of Need applications would be delayed.
  • Health services that support individuals, activities to prevent diseases, and promotional work to encourage healthy choices would not be provided. The following services would not be provided:
    › Childhood vaccines
    › Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program
    › Family planning
    › Washington State Tobacco Quitline
    › Coordination services for children with special health care needs
    › Specialty therapy services via Neurodevelopmental Centers
    › Maxillofacial Review Board consultations, treatment and surgeries
    › Family Health Hotline (provides information on a variety of health topics)
    › Child profile health promotion mailings
    › Case management services for perinatal hepatitis B prevention
    › Immunization clinical resources
    › Human papillomavirus public awareness campaign
    › SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) education
    › Community health worker training

State Parks
Summer is the busy season for Washington State Parks, so a shutdown would have significant impacts on the agency and its customers. A majority of park visits occur during the summer months, and State Parks earns about half of its revenue between July 1 and Sept. 30.

  • Thousands of people who have already made reservations for the first week of July would need to be notified that their reservations might be cancelled. This includes:
    › 10,112 separate camping reservations
    › 421 bookings for cabins, yurts and vacation houses and 102 group accommodation reservations (weddings, family reunions, etc.)

State Parks estimates these reservations are equal to about 48,000 visitor nights and affect about 128,000 people. State Parks would have to absorb the cost of any refunded reservation fees and would lose the overnight revenue.

An estimated 1.3 million visitors coming for the day during the first week of July to any of the 124 state parks would be turned away.

  • Special events in many parks would need to be cancelled, affecting visitors, sponsors and vendors alike. The campground at Fort Worden and other area parks would be closed, which would have a significant impact on Centrum Foundation’s annual Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, June 27 through July 5. The festival attracts a core of 500 participants. Many festival-goers camp at Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Townsend, and would be without accommodations for the greater part of the festival. The festival would continue because of a lease agreement with the Port Townsend Public Development Authority to manage the conference portion of the park, but there would be no ranger or maintenance support.
  • A total of $1.9 million in lost State Parks revenue is anticipated. This includes Discover Pass, camping, cabin, group facilities, special event, camp store and other related fees. Surrounding community businesses that benefit from state parks would also be effected.
  • It is reasonable to anticipate vandalism and misuse of park facilities because park staff are not in place to provide protection. Irreplaceable natural, cultural and historical resources are at risk, as well as valuable developed park areas where there is public investment.

Department of Fish & Wildlife

  • Most, if not all, fisheries would have to be closed, because WDFW would not have staff to monitor, sample and account for the catch or enforce regulations.
  • The department would not be able to issue fishing or hunting licenses, Discover Passes or other documents through our electronic licensing system.
  • Other impacts include the closure of our access sites and suspension of our ability to issue hydraulic project approvals, which would impact new construction projects where an HPA permit is necessary to begin work.
  • WDFW is developing contingency plans for the care and feeding of fish in the state’s hatcheries, pheasants at the state’s game farm and endangered captive pygmy rabbits in captivity.

Department of Ecology
All but about a dozen of Ecology’s 1,642 regular employees would be temporarily laid off. In addition, the department has 422 Washington Conservation Corps and Ecology Youth Corps members who would not receive official layoff notices, but would be told by their crew supervisors not to show up to work until further notice.

A shutdown would prevent the department from continuing its work to protect Washington’s land, air and water. Examples of work that will not be done:

  • Respond to any environmental complaints, except on an emergency basis.
  • Conduct inspections of any type, including at the Hanford nuclear cleanup site.
  • Process or issue new permits or other authorizations for industrial or agricultural wastewater discharges, air emissions or water rights. This includes drought-related and agricultural burning permits if applications haven’t been processed by June 30.
  • Collect environmental samples, including those from streams, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound.
  • Respond to oil or hazardous spills, except in the most critical circumstances.
  • Identify or respond to dam safety problems, except in the most critical circumstances.
  • Work on environmental impact statements for any of the large projects for which we are State Environmental Policy Act lead or co-lead.
  • Employ young adults and veterans to do habitat restoration, trail maintenance and other projects through our AmeriCorps Washington Conservation Corps program.
  • Test environmental or product samples at our laboratory.

There would be additional impacts to local communities since nearly three-fourths of Ecology’s budget (operating and capital) is pass-through funding for environmental projects to local governments. The department’s 1,800 grant and loan recipients and contractors would not able to use any state funds. This includes funds for construction of wastewater treatment plant upgrades, habitat restoration projects and cleaning up toxic sites in communities.

Department of Agriculture
With about 20% of its budget supported by the state General Fund, the Department of Agriculture would have to suspend numerous programs, including:

  • All routine testing and inspections by the Animal Health Division.
  • All routine inspection of the Dairy Nutrient Management Program.

In addition, several agency programs would cease offering services altogether, including:

  • International Marketing – Uses overseas contractors to help food and agricultural companies enter the export market.
  • Food Assistance Program – Distributes food and money to food banks and assistance programs statewide.
  • Natural Resource Assessment Section – Monitors the impact of agricultural activities to the state’s natural resources.
  • Pesticide Waste Disposal – Collects and ensures the proper disposal of prohibited or unusable pesticides from farms.
  • Plant Protection Division – Works to prevent high risk insects, plant diseases, weeds and other pests from becoming established in Washington.

Department of Commerce

  • 122 community capital construction projects underway will be disrupted, putting millions of dollars at risk due to costly delays and creating the potential for projects to stand uncompleted. Construction jobs will be cut back or lost.
  • Services to approximately 2,158 WorkFirst participants delivered through state-contracted agencies would no longer be provided, creating additional barriers for individuals already facing challenges in re-entering the workforce.
  • Community Action Agencies would not be able to finalize and/or pay benefits on applications received in June for utility assistance to about 4,000 low-income individuals, leading to greater health and safety risks for vulnerable people such as the elderly, disabled and families with young children.
  • Approximately 120 homeowners per month who are facing foreclosure are referred to Commerce by housing counselors and attorneys for foreclosure mediation services. These homeowners will no longer receive counseling services and legal aid under the Foreclosure Fairness Act, greatly increasing their risk of losing their homes.
  • Payments will stop to landlords for clients receiving rent assistance for approximately 7,100 vulnerable adults and children, putting them at risk of eviction and subsequent homelessness. In addition to direct client impacts, our carefully cultivated relationships with private market landlords will suffer from a disruption in rent payments.
  • Approximately 50 affordable housing projects now under development and construction will be disrupted, putting millions of dollars at risk due to costly delays and potential for projects to stand uncompleted. Construction jobs will be cut back or lost.
  • Commerce’s ability to administer the low-income weatherization program would be significantly impaired. Lost would be $6 million in dollar-for-dollar matching funds from private utility companies, with an additional $18 million jeopardized over the biennium. Work would cease on safety and energy improvements to approximately 1,300 units (homes) of affordable housing stock.
  • Thousands of crime victims would not receive medical and legal advocacy, therapy or crisis intervention, among other services provided through our contracted agencies.
  • Two statewide hotlines for crime victims operated by Commerce would not be staffed. Victims seeking support and referrals would not be served.
  • With no staff to serve about 65 small and medium-sized businesses we assist monthly in exporting, the state could lose at least $9 million a month of export sales, with the residual effect of ramp-up time after shutdown likely.
  • Client requests for export documentation to clear customs would not be processed, at a loss of $2 million of export sales a month. These requests intensify in the summer in anticipation of the holiday season.
  • Significant impacts across several program areas would disrupt 375 local construction projects. This could jeopardize other funding as well as increase costs incurred to render construction sites safe and re-mobilize essential construction equipment once funding is approved. Affected programs are:
    › Community Economic Revitalization Board has 23 active projects.
    › Community Development Block Grant has 85 active projects.
    › Local Government Division currently manages 27 direct appropriation projects.
    › Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has 133 active projects.
    › Public Works Board has 106 active contracts.

Department of Licensing
Individuals submitting professional license applications or other requests to these programs will face delays until program staff return to work. It also will halt the work of our BPD inspectors and investigators. Consumers attempting to file a complaint against a licensed professional or firm also will have to wait until staff return to work. Professional licensing delays could create general hardships for individuals and businesses that need these credentials to conduct business.

Licensing programs impacted by suspension of service:

  • Real Estate Appraisers
  • Home Inspectors
  • Real Estate Agents and Firms
  • Time Shares and Camp Resorts
  • Engineers – Land surveyors – Onsite Waste Water
  • Architects
  • Scrap Metal Recyclers
  • Notaries
  • Uniform Commercial Code
  • Whitewater Rafters
  • Telephone Solicitors
  • Employment Agencies
  • Cosmetology
  • Tattoo-body art – body piercing
  • Combative Sports
  • Auctioneers
  • Sellers of Travel
  • Court Reporters
  • Security guards
  • Private Investigators
  • Bail Bonds
  • Bail Bonds Recovery
  • Collection agencies
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