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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Temporary Layoff Notices Go To Washington State Employee Unions


Preparations for a state government shutdown are underway because Washington lawmakers haven’t agreed on a budget for the next two years.

Unionized state employees in Washington face temporary layoffs starting July 1 if lawmakers fail to reach a budget deal. Official warning letters went out to 17 labor unions Friday morning.

The governor’s budget office is quick to say it expects there will be a budget by July 1. But union contracts require 30-day notices of possible layoffs, so the letters went out warning that if there’s a shutdown then state employees won’t get paid.

The letter tells the unions that if they want to bargain the impacts of the potential temporary layoffs to send in their demands as soon as possible.

State agencies are also preparing for a possible shutdown and notifying contractors and vendors that their payments may be suspended.

A second special session of the legislature is now underway.

The state has published a summary of what would happen if Washington government does shutdown. Examples include closing of state parks, halting Fish and Wildlife enforcement, and suspending GPS tracking of sex offenders.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."