Inslee cancels some state employee raises, announces need for furloughs

Jay Inslee (1)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced the cancelation of a scheduled general wage increase for some government employees, as well as the need for more than 40,000 state employees to be furloughed.

The 3% general wage increase was set to begin on July 1 for many of the state’s highest-paid general government employees.

The canceled pay raise will affect nearly 5,600 general government employees, including agency directors, Exempt Management Service and Washington Management Service employees, as well as all other exempt employees who earn more than $53,000 annually.

“COVID-19 has hit our state hard and our economy has taken a severe hit as a result. These are very difficult decisions but they are necessary to address the financial shortfall that we are facing,” Inslee said. “Every day state employees serve the people of Washington with dedication, and these actions do not reflect on that commitment or quality of their work. In this current financial situation, everyone needs to make sacrifices and we know this will not be easy. I know that our state will come out of these difficult times stronger than ever.”

Other union-represented and non-represented classified employees will still get the general wage increase.

Additionally, more than 40,000 state employees will be required to take one furlough day per week starting no later than June 28 and continuing through July 25. After July, employees will be required to take one furlough day per month at least through the fall.

Employees will also be allowed to take voluntary unpaid furlough and the furlough plan exempts people in critical positions for which the state would have to bring in relief help to cover for a furloughed employee.

According to the governor’s office, the two actions together will save the state Near General Fund about $55 million over the next year.

“This was a very difficult decision. We know the furloughs will put additional pressure on all employees as they will need to help shoulder additional work and responsibilities in the short-term,” said David Schumacher, director of the state Office of Financial Management. “We also recognize that furloughs and not extending the general wage increase to all employees will cause financial hardship for some state employees.”

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