Memo to gov: State employees’ pay can be cut

To close the state’s $2.6 billion budget deficit, Gov. Christine Gregoire and many Democratic leaders would rather propose tax increases than modify one of the state’s largest expenses — state worker salaries and benefits.

In a December press conference, the governor said unions will sue if she tinkers with contract recommendations, but our state’s collective bargaining laws allow labor agreements to be modified in the event of a significant revenue shortfall.

RCW 41.80.010(6) states: “If, after the compensation and fringe benefit provisions of an agreement are approved by the Legislature, a significant revenue shortfall occurs resulting in reduced appropriations, as declared by proclamation of the governor or by resolution of the legislature, both parties shall immediately enter into collective bargaining for a mutually agreed upon modification of the agreement.”

Because the governor has refused to reopen contracts with state workers, the ball is now in the Legislature’s court.

Taxpayers can no longer afford to pay the excessive salaries and benefits of public employees.

Amber Gunn is director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Economic Policy Center.

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