This week the House and Senate released their supplemental budget proposals, and there is some good news for Teamsters at the Department of Corrections.
Both the House and Senate have joined Governor Inslee in calling for $5 million in funding for the opening of the 256-bed medium security unit at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla to reduce prison overcrowding. Overcrowding, particularly at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, has led to serious safety and security issues for correctional employees, with offenders packed into cells and in some cases having to sleep on the floor.
So the news on funding to open the new units is a welcomed relief.
Local 117 members across our union worked hard to educate their legislators about the need to include the funding in their proposals, both at our Teamster Lobby Days on January 28 and February 20, and through emails and phone calls. Your Union's Legislative Affairs Coordinator, Teresita Torres, has been meeting with legislators throughout session to discuss the importance of appropriating the funding for the DOC.
As far as the capital budget goes, the proposal to allocate $1.8 million to complete predesign studies on capacity issues for male and female prison populations remains unresolved. The Governor and the House included the funding in their proposals, while the Senate did not.
We must continue to work to ensure that the final capital budget includes the funding for the pre-design.
Call the Legislative Hotline in Olympia at 1-800-562-6000. Thank your Senator for approving the funding for the new units at WSP, but tell him or her that it is also important to include the $1.8 million in funding for DOC in the final capital budget.