Opinion: Secretly negotiated state government pay raises to cost taxpayers more than $1 billion

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center offers an update of what the government employee unions describe as the ‘largest compensation package’ in history.
Gov. Jay Inslee

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center offers an update of what the government employee unions describe as the ‘largest compensation package’ in history

Jason Mercier
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:

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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  1. Dave Roberts

    My immediate recommendation is that Jay Inslee be drafted by the DC cabal and get set for the 2024 run for the big 🧀 cheese. Then we can work to unwinding all of the improvements that he has brought to the Evergreen State. Maybe the use of transparency would be helpful going forward 😬😬

  2. Susan

    Why am I seeing/hearing about this only now, in a small news outlet targeting a right-leaning readership? (Sorry CCT, no insult intended) Why is this not being considered ‘news’ by all State news organizations?

    I’m hearing more anecdotal stories of “they moved to Kansas to get away from Washington politics” and “he transferred to Florida to be rid of Fuhr Inslee.” I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t more prevalent than what is realized.

    I personally know of a couple who moved to Florida due – in part – to their desire to be among more “mainstream” and “moderate thinking” individuals. In his 60’s, the husband flatly stated nine months ago that “Washington State is becoming scarier by the week, all due to Inslee.” This is a CEO-type, educated, and affluent gentleman who, last week, told me that it is so refreshing in Florida to be away from the “far left, draconian politics seen in Washington.”


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