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House Budget Falls Short of Senate on Doc Safety Improvements

The Washington State House of Representatives released its Operating Budget on Wednesday at a news conference in Olympia.

In contrast to the Senate’s budget released last week, the House budget closes 15 tax loopholes and preserves important social services for pre-K children and the working poor. The House budget also provides an additional $1.9 billion for K-12 education as the State struggles to meet a Supreme Court mandate to boost school funding.

In addition, the House budget:

  • Fully funds the 2013-2015 collective bargaining agreements for Teamsters at the DOC;
  • Funds EHB 1923, a bill that would add medical staff at the DOC into the Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS); the Senate proposal does not fund EHB 1923.

As compared to the Senate budget, however, the House fails to provide the same level of funding for safety improvements at the DOC. While the Senate budget includes an additional $3.5 million for radio infrastructure improvements and increased staffing levels, the House budget calls for an increase of only $2.8 million.

Funding for safety improvements in the House budget is broken down as follows:

  • Radio system upgrades at several institutions (approximately $1 million);
  • Additional staffing of medium security housing units on day shift (approximately $1.8 million allocated for 18 FTEs).

Like the House, the Senate proposes radio upgrades and increased medium security staffing on days, but it also includes additional funding for staffing of minimum-security units on graveyard shift. The House budget allocates no increased funding for graveyard staff at stand alone minimum-security facilities.

In all, the Senate appropriates approximately $2.5 million for increased staffing levels at the DOC for a total 25.5 FTEs, while the House appropriates $1.8 million for an additional 18 FTEs. The House will likely be voting on its budget in the next few days.

The House, the Senate, and the Governor will then have to work out a final, compromise budget. Continue to check in at your Local Union’s website at www.teamsters117.org for ongoing budget updates.

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