Senate, House pass budget

This is the Federation Hotline updated March 9.


One of the best legislative sessions in years thanks to WFSE/AFSCME members’ committed actions

The 2018 legislative session ended Thursday night (March 8) with a supplemental budget that cares about the people of the state and the quality services we provide.

AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) members’ grassroots and on-the-scene activism won major legislation, including some like the PSERS expansion bill that had been stalled most of this decade by the former Senate majority. AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) members who stood up and worked to change that majority in last fall’s elections should be proud of that hard work. The new Senate majority definitely made a big difference this time out.

So here’s a recap with some new details on the supplemental budget and the legislation that together we won.

Supplemental budget (ESSB 6032):

Overall, the final supplemental budget (ESSB 6032) helps vulnerable people, students, public safety and the natural resources that make this state great.

It funds the expansion of the PSERS pension program to include institutions workers in high-risk jobs (as authorized in SHB 1558).

It has a funding rate of $916 per member per month for our health insurance that expands some benefits: a new virtual diabetes prevention program; a change in the waiting period for dental crown replacements in the Uniform Dental Program from seven to five years; and an increase in the Medicare-eligible retiree subsidy from $150 a month to $168 a month starting next year.

There’s also a one-time 1.5 percent cost-of-living benefit increase for PERS 1 retirees (as authorized in SSB 6340).

Here’s a summary of other supplemental operating and capital construction budget highlights:


  • No cuts to Community Corrections and no changes to the violation policy.
  • Increases vendor rates by 25 percent for providers of chemical dependency services in the Department of Corrections’ work releases and prisons.
  • Funding for 62 additional beds at current work release facilities.
  • Funding is provided to the Office of the Governor for the creation and operation of the Office of Corrections Ombuds.

Higher Education:

  • Some 4,600 students – many may be our kids or students our Higher Education members are committed to – will benefit from funding to reduce the waiting list of the State Need Grant, a need-based financial aid program, by a quarter in Fiscal Year 2019. The Senate Democrats say this “sets us on a path to fully fund State Need Grant over (the) next four years.”
  • Provides a one-time backfill of University of Washington compensation and central services costs. Uses state General Fund dollars instead of tuition.
  • The Evergreen State College: Funding is provided to hire one additional TESC campus police officer and a part-time office assistant.
  • Community and Technical Colleges: One-time funding is provided for a study of compensation across the community and technical college system.
  • Washington-Labor Education Research Center (LERC) Labor Staff: Funding is provided for three positions at LERC.  LERC will hire two researchers, a labor educator, and program coordinator to increase LERC’s research capacity, classes and worker trainings, and to develop an online associate degree in workforce and labor studies.

DSHS Mental Health:

  • Funding for increased staffing and other costs addressing quality of care and patient safety at the state mental hospitals. Includes funding a federally required plan of correction at Western State Hospital; and an acuity-based staffing tool and hospital-wide staffing model at the state hospitals.
  • Increases funding for forensics, including 45 new beds at Western State Hospital effective July 2018. Also, funding for five positions in the Office of Forensic Mental Health Services to increase capacity and effectiveness in providing forensic evaluation services.
  • Additional treatment staff at the Child Study and Treatment Center in Lakewood; supports operations of a newly constructed secure treatment area there to serve youth with a significant history of violent behavior and life-threatening self-harm.
  • Contracted forensics beds: As part of a recent agreement filed with the court, DSHS will open beds at Western State Hospital rather than increasing beds in Yakima.
  • Consolidated maintenance/operations: Funding is provided on a one-time basis to address maintenance issues at Western State Hospital.
  • Equipment replacement at state hospitals: One-time funding to replace furniture, medical, kitchen and other equipment there.
  • Funding iss provided on a one-time basis to backfill overspending at the state hospitals in Fiscal Year 2018.
  • In the capital construction budget, DSHS is appropriated $17.8 million for: $2.9 million in bonds for projects to address the System Improvement Agreement with the Centers for Medical Services; $9 million in bonds for the conversion of 60 civil beds into forensic beds at Western State Hospital; $3.5 million in bonds for 25 forensic beds at Eastern State Hospital; and $2.4 million in bonds for an Eastern State Hospital heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) control project.

DSHS Developmental Disabilities:

  • Addresses critical Medicaid compliance staffing. Adds 146 positions at state residential habilitation centers (RHCs) to comply with federal requirements.
  • Expands State-Operated Living Alternatives (SOLAs) by 47 beds as an option for clients in residential habilitation centers (RHCs). These SOLA placements will be phased in over three years.
  • Consolidated maintenance/operations. Funding is provided for additional staff to address the deterioration and degradation of physical assets, along with other requirements.
  • Funding for supportive living investigators.
  • Important RHC budget proviso and WFSE/AFSCME input. A budget proviso requires DSHS to contract with the Ruckelshaus Center or other neutral party to facilitate meetings and discussions about how to support appropriate levels of care for RHC clients based on the clients’ needs and ages.  The options explored must include, but are not limited to, conversion of cottages from certification as an intermediate care facility to certification and licensure as a skilled nursing facility, developing a state-operated nursing facility for eligible clients, and placement of additional clients from RHCs into SOLAs.  A report must be transmitted before Dec. 1, 2018.  Parties invited to participate must include: four legislators (one from each caucus), a representative of the governor, one member each from the DD Council, the ARC of WA, WFSE/AFSCME, SEIU 1199, DDA, and ALTCA, and two members who are family members or guardians of current RHC residents. We’ll have a seat at the table on what could affect staff and clients.

Children’s Services:

  • Increases implementation funding for the new Department of Children, Youth and Families.
  • In DSHS, funds 10 Emergent Place Contract beds that the Children’s Administration initiated in November 2017. This brings the number of EPC beds to 34. EPC beds are short-term placements that provide an alternative to the use of hotels for children in foster care.

DSHS Long-Term Care:

  • RCS Quality Assurance Unit: Funding is provided to maintain 6.0 positions within the Residential Care Services Quality Assurance Unit in Fiscal Year 2019 and beyond.  The QA unit conducts reviews and creates process improvement plans for inspection, investigation, and enforcement actions around institutional and community providers that serve again and disabled clients.
  • Assisted Living investigators: Appropriation authority and 5 additional positions are provided to conduct inspections and investigations in response to increased provider practice complaints in assisted living facilities.
  • Supported Living investigators: Increases the number of complaint investigators from 9 to 17.6 positions in response to growth in workload.

Human Services:

  • Fully restores and increases TANF grants. Increases asset limits for public assistance programs.

Special Commitment Center:

  • Maintain Emergency Response Team: Funding is provided for licensed emergency medical technicians to maintain compliance with state staffing rules, Pierce County regulations, and requirements to maintain the McNeil Island ambulance license.


  • Funds critical staffing in the Department of Veterans Affairs: one-time backfills at the Soldiers’ Home in Orting, the Walla Walla Veterans’ Home and the Veterans’ Home in Retsil.

Liquor and Cannabis Board:

  • Added six positions to upgrade marijuana retail enforcement.

Juvenile Rehabilitation:

  • Funds to hire 7.6 FTEs (full-time equivalent positions) to operate an acute mental health program for youth at Green Hill School in Chehalis.

Labor and Industries:

  • Funds the “Injuries to Janitors” Study to research the injury rates of custodians in the state. An initial report is due June 30, 2020.


  • Water Availability: Funding is provided to establish watershed restoration and enhancement committees in 15 watersheds, promulgate rules, fund water use mitigation projects, create a water-metering pilot project, and provide information to a joint legislative task force.
  • Water Rights Compliance: Funding is provided in the next two years for compliance and enforcement staff to address unpermitted water use, including technical assistance, informal enforcement, and formal enforcement actions.

Disaster response:

  • Funds 2017 wildfire season costs incurred by the Department of Natural Resources; increases fire response capability.
  • Funding to the Military Department (the agency in charge of Emergency Management) for disaster recovery efforts for 13 presidentially-declared state disasters; and funding to the Disaster Response Account to address a projected shortfall.


  • Litter Fund Transfer adjustment: The fund transfer from the litter control account to the parks account is reduced.  State general funds are provided to cover the difference.

State Patrol:

  • Toxicology Lab: Funding is provided on a one-time basis to fund five FTEs to reduce the back log in toxicology testing requests.

Other General Government:

  • Funding is provided for several economic development programs through the Department of Commerce.
  • Funding to Consolidated Technology Services (WaTech) to improve the state’s cyber defense program.


  • Funding to the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) related to the interpreter services expansion bill, 2SSB 6245.

Legislative victories

AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) members saw their hard work pay off with passage of five major priority bills that passed in a short session when there’s less time to get legislation passed.

  • SHB 1558, the bill expanding the Public Safety Employees Retirement System (PSERS) to include direct-care workers in DSHS and Veterans institutions. SHB 1558 came after more than 12 years of effort and recognizes the unacceptable rates of assault and injury these institutions workers face.
  • Expanding shared leave for pregnancy disability/bonding with newborns (ESHB 1434).
  • Adding part-time employees to civil service (HB 2669).
  • Peer support group confidentiality for DOC Community Corrections (HB 2611).
  • 2SSB 6245, the interpreter services expansion bill.
  • SB 6407 that among other things repeals the pilot project contracting out of Child Welfare Services in demonstration sites that was to begin in December 2019. SB 6407 was requested by the Department of Social and Health Services.

And as always, bills that didn’t make it this year can come back next year. Those bills that didn’t make it covered everything from the Taxpayer Protection Act to bring transparency and accountability to state outsourcing to binding interest arbitration for campus police to social worker student loan repayment to affordable housing. On these and other bills, WFSE/AFSCME members kept the issues and alive and will be back in 2019.

Like Local 304’s Tommy Fuglestad said about the affordable housing bill he worked for this year:

“It doesn’t mean that the fight is over because you can still keep fighting for it. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again.”

Thank you all for all you’ve done this legislative session. As always these hotlines will go from daily to at least once-a-week