State Senate Republicans released a proposed two-year budget today that claims it fully funds basic education – and has money left strengthen the social-services “safety net” without needing new taxes.
What it does not include, however, has state government employees unions up in arms. It declines to fund the collective bargaining agreements reached by the governor in negotiation with labor units. Instead, all state workers would receive two $500 salary payments, not the 6 percent raises over two years.
“This is not a situation where we can support unprecedented wage increases across the board,” said Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), the Senate Republicans’ chief budget writer, at today’s news conference.
Jeff Johnson, president of Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, responded that “the much-deserved proposed wage increases for state employees” are being withheld because Republicans refuse to clean up the state’s tax code and raise additional revenue.
Union advocates say the state’s own salary survey found that 99 percent of state job classifications are paying below-market wages.
Today’s budget plan is just the second of three competing proposals that are likely to dominate legislative deliberations over the next month. House Democrats are expected to release their fiscal ideas next week, likely to more closely match the governor’s proposed budget from last December.