Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center offers an update of what the government employee unions describe as the ‘largest compensation package’ in history
Washington Policy Center
The Office of Financial Management (OFM) has posted the financial details on the secretly negotiated compensation contracts that government employee unions describe as the “largest compensation package” in history. Based on spreadsheets posted by OFM, the compensation increases will exceed $1 billion. This includes the cost for across-the-board pay raises, $1,000 retention bonuses, and $1,000 incentive for COVID boosters.
Here are the financial details from OFM:
- Submittal of 2023–25 collective bargaining per RCW 41.56 and 41.80 – state employees
- Submittal of 2023–25 collective bargaining per RCW 47.64 – Washington State Ferries employees
- Submittal of 2023–25 collective bargaining – non-state employees
- Submittal of 2023–25 collective bargaining – K12 health care (School Employees Benefits program)
Senate Minority Leader John Braun said this about the more than $1 billion in pay raises negotiated by the Governor in secret:
“I don’t fault public employees for wanting raises. Right now, we only know that the collective bargaining agreements will cost more than $1 billion from the general fund and $1.6 billion in total funds. But there’s more than $1 billion in additional costs not accounted for yet. For what it will cost to give raises to a relative few, we could have given tax relief to everyone. Inslee and Democrats said no . . .
Even worse is that the agreements were negotiated in secret. The governor refuses to open up negotiations. The only opportunity the Legislature has to provide input is to either approve them as is or not. We can’t change any of the specifics. And although the governor has pointed to the Joint Committee on Employment Relations as the mechanism for legislative oversight, the bipartisan group of members on the committee get no additional details beyond what is released to the public. They, too, must wait until after the deals are reached. Any claim that the existence of the committee means the Legislature is involved in the negotiations is nonsense.”
The Joint Committee on Employment Relations will hold a work session on October 13 to receive an update from OFM on the now completed contract negotiations.
It is unclear at this time if the governor also plans to propose any broad-based tax relief in his 2023-25 budget submittal to accompany the more than $1 billion in state government employee pay raises he agreed to in secret.
Jason Mercier is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center.
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