If the Senate Republican majority remains inflexible in budget negotiations and no budget is signed into law before July 1, state government would be forced to shut down. This would be uncharted territory for the state, but the consequences could be devastating to Washington families and businesses. It is likely that constitutional requirements and services deemed essential for health and public safety would be exempted from a shutdown, but a number of services that are considered "non-essential" are vital to families, businesses and communities across our state.
What could a Republican shutdown look like for businesses?
- State-issued permits for new businesses or ongoing activities could not be processed or issued.
- Developers could be unable to get state inspections for work that must be approved before they can continue with other phases of their projects. For example, L & I conducts many of the electrical inspections across the state in unincorporated areas. There would be no employees or mechanism for renewing business licenses and permits that normally are routinely renewed at the state level.
- There would be no state employees to recruit new businesses to locate in our state.
- There would be no state employees to provide businesses with export assistance.
- With no one to track periodic discharge reports, businesses could fall out of compliance without knowing it and be subject later to steep fines.
- With no one to inspect businesses such as oil refineries, those businesses could fall out of compliance and be subject to civil lawsuits.
- With no one to monitor bacteria levels that could pose health threats, seafood processors could sell unsafe food or exhaust shellfish beds.
What could a Republican shutdown look like for families on recreation?
- All Washington State Parks could be closed during the peak season of their centennial anniversary.
- Reservations of state park facilities would be cancelled. Many families’ plans for summer vacations, camping, family reunions, weddings, birthdays and day use would be severely disrupted.
- Last year, more than 35 million people used and enjoyed our 117 state parks. With our state parks closed, tourism and businesses that rely on the success of our parks would suffer.
- Sales of the Discover Pass and revenue from use fees would screech to a halt as people are unable to use our state park system. The state budget relies on $100.8 million in annual revenue from donations and fees, money which would be lost if our state parks were closed.
How could a Republican shutdown impact local communities?
- Public works projects across the state, including those funded through the state capital budget, could be delayed or even eliminated.
- The construction industry, which is just now beginning to bounce back from the Great Recession, could be devastated during its peak season.
- A shutdown of the construction industry would devastate communities and families which rely on those family-wage jobs to make ends meet.
How could a Republican shutdown affect families with children?
- Working Connections Child Care, which helps subsidize child care for low income families so children can be safe while their parents can go to work, could potentially stop payments to child care providers.
- The Early Childhood Education and Assistance program, which helps prepare children for kindergarten through supporting the health, education and nutrition of a child, could be forced to stop operation, leaving needy and vulnerable children without support.
- DSHS programs for foster children will be at risk for suspension.
How could a Republican shutdown affect working men and women?
- Without Labor & Industries inspectors to respond to reports of workplace hazards, workers would clock into potentially dangerous working environments.
- Safety inspections on critical electrical systems, boilers and elevators could be delayed or suspended.
- Reports of workers compensation fraud could go unanswered and unchecked, costing the state millions of dollars.
- Workers’ rights might no longer be checked and enforced by L & I inspectors, allowing corrupt employers to get away with unethical business practices.
- Already underfunded inspectors checking complaints of workplace discrimination will be sent home.
A Republican shutdown could affect our state’s bond rating, which would increase the interest rates we pay on our debt and cause the cost of government to increase.
Democrats have controlled the Senate, the House and the Governor’s Office for many years, and we’ve had many special sessions, but we’ve never shut down government as we’ve seen happen in Washington D.C.
Senate Republicans’ refusal to negotiate and misplaced priorities are bringing this dangerous and irresponsible scenario closer and closer to reality. This is from the same people who said at the beginning of the year:
“People are looking for something different from what they’re seeing in the other Washington… I look forward to showing that in the Senate we can put policy ahead of politics and govern in a responsible and bipartisan way.”
— Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler
“The public is hungry for Olympia to come together and work cooperatively on our most important priorities – jobs, education and the budget... It is time we put aside party dynamics and focus instead on the needs of all Washingtonians.”
— Majority Leader Rodney Tom
Democrats have offered significant compromises in an effort to come to a budget agreement in time to prevent a shutdown. Meanwhile, the Senate majority has not offered a budget proposal since the beginning of April, which even their budget lead characterized as a work in progress. Senate Democrats, along with Gov. Inslee and our colleagues in the House, are committed to preventing any disruption of important state services. We urge Senate Republicans to set aside ideology and join us in working for, not against, the interests of Washingtonians.
Gov. Inslee released this letter detailing the state's contingency plan should the Senate Republicans force our state to shut down.