OLYMPIA—Senate Republicans introduced a budget that would raise property taxes $5.5 billion across the state and made cuts to social safety programs, such as the Housing and Essential Needs program which keeps people in homes and off the streets. House Democrats opposed the Senate budget cuts and property tax increases and have sought to negotiate a compromise for two months. Now, because the Senate refused to negotiate until very recently, the state government is on the verge of a shutdown.
A government shutdown will occur if the Legislature does not pass and the Governor does not sign a new budget by June 30. On top of temporarily laying off 33,000 state workers, programs, services, and facilities would be effected, Such as:
- Having to close Dash Point State Park over the 4th of July holiday and refunding all camping reservations.
- 50,000 vulnerable seniors across the state, and hundreds in the Federal Way area, will no longer receive meal services because the Food Assistance Program, which distributes food and money to local food banks and assistance programs statewide, will stop operating.
- Over 7,500 veterans and their families in nearby communities could see veteran services and benefits disrupted, including PTSD counseling, contracts to help file Veterans Affairs claims, and emergency financial assistance for recently-deployed veterans.
- Nearly 4,000 working families who rely on Working Connections child care assistance may be without a safe place for their kids.
- While 4,300 families who receive temporary assistance will no longer get the help they need.
- Almost 350 of our neighbors who receive housing assistance will face possible eviction while the government is shutdown.
- Local students attending Highline or Green River community college for the summer may not be able to and students getting state need grants won’t see that help.
“As I see it, this Legislature has one job it must do. We must pass a budget, and it must meet our constitutional obligation to our kids and to the taxpayers. Right now, the blatant refusal to negotiate for two months from the Senate has led to hurting, not helping, hardworking families in our area,” said Rep. Kristine Reeves (D-Federal Way). “We cannot allow political entrenchments to override our duty to the people of Washington. If children and families are tossed on the street, or seniors go hungry, or veterans are denied their benefits, we have failed to do our job and we have become no better than the other Washington”
Budget negotiators have until June 30 to pass a budget. Failure to fund the government by then results in a shutdown starting July 1.