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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."

Preparations Continue For Possible Washington Government Shutdown

Alan Cordova

If Washington lawmakers don’t have a budget by the end of the month, state government will shut down. But it would only be a partial shutdown.

A lot of workers and services would remain in place. To put it in perspective, there are about 60,000 general government employees in Washington state. About 26,000 of them -- fewer than half -- would be furloughed.

The Washington State Patrol and the Department Transportation would mostly remain open for business because they already have their budgets. Prison operations would also continue, but at a reduced level. Similarly, state mental hospitals and institutions for the developmentally disabled would continue to operate. As would cash benefits to the poor and Medicaid – at least initially.

Where you would see an impact: state parks would close, as would most fisheries. The state’s Working Connections Child Care program would also be suspended.

While Governor Jay Inslee’s office is planning for a partial shutdown, his budget director said there’s still “plenty of time” to get a budget deal. In 2013, an agreement wasn’t announced until June 27.


This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Washington state's Women, Infants and Children food and nutrition program would not be suspended in the event of a partial shutdown.

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."