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RPEC Weekly ACTION Newsletter – June 26, 2017

Shutdown Impact on You– June 26, 2017

 

Information for DRS Customers Regarding Possible Suspension of Certain Services on July 1

From the Department of Retirement Systems – The Washington State Legislature has not yet approved state operating or capital budgets for the 2017–19 Biennium, which begins July 1. If the Legislature does not enact budgets by June 30, state agencies will have to implement full or partial shutdowns.

While we still expect the budgets to be approved by June 30, the state Department of Retirement Systems has been working with the state Office of Financial Management to develop contingency plans. (See a summary of all state agency plans and related information below).  In the unlikely event that a shutdown is necessary, DRS will operate in an extremely limited capacity to maintain legally required obligations.

Below is a list of questions and answers regarding the impact to DRS services if a shutdown occurs.

I am a retiree/retiree’s beneficiary. Will I continue to receive my monthly payment?

Yes. You will continue to receive your benefit. If, however, there are any pending adjustments to your benefit, they might not be processed during a shutdown.

Will my health insurance payments and other deductions continue as part of the monthly retirement payment?

Yes. Current deduction arrangements will continue for the July benefit payment. If, however, there are changes to your current deductions, they might not be processed in time for your July benefit payment.

How would a temporary layoff affect my retirement benefit?

Benefits are based upon salary and service. If you work less than the hours required by your system and plan to earn full service credit, you may only receive partial service credit for the month. If you earn less salary, and this month is part of your highest salary averaging period, it could have a slightly negative impact on the average used to calculate your benefit (your Average Final Compensation, or AFC). Unlike the furloughs and temporary salary reductions during the 2009-11 2011-13 biennia, there is currently no AFC protection in place for the upcoming biennium.

Will I be able to reach DRS by phone or email if I have questions?

DRS will not be available to respond to your requests by phone or email during a shutdown. However, if you contact us by email we will respond to your request as quickly as we can once normal operations resume.

 

Possible Government Shutdown

If there’s no budget deal by June 30, the state government shuts down on July 1—and that will hurt everyone.

This would be the first time since Washington became a state in 1889 that lawmakers failed to pass a budget by that constitutional deadline.

 

Why a shutdown matters From Representatives Dolan and Doglio (22nd LD)

Shutting down an entire state’s government would do serious damage to people, taxpayers and jobs.

Damage to people—Seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels will go hungry.

State prisons would stop taking newly convicted felons and 3,400 corrections officers will be laid off, meaning no one will be standing watch over people on community supervision.

Safety inspectors will get pink slips, ending workplace safety inspections and checks on escalators, elevators, boilers and electrical systems. During the last year, the state shut down 80 elevators they found to be dangerous.

State parks will be closed just before the Fourth of July weekend, ruining the vacation plans for millions of Washington residents.

Veterans and their families will lose access to services, with 2,000 veterans cut off from PTSD counseling, recently deployed veterans no longer able to get emergency financial assistance and all Veteran Service Centers in the state closed.

More than 33,000 state workers will get laid off, with many struggling to pay their mortgages and feed their families.

Damage to taxpayers—Even a one-day shutdown would do serious harm to our state’s credit rating, raising the price of borrowing for years and costing taxpayers millions.

Millions of fish in state hatcheries will die.

Taxpayers will also be on the hook for the costs of halting and restarting the machinery of an entire state, something we’ve never done before.

Damage to jobs—Businesses in Washington state rely on state services that will end, making any shutdown a job killer.

The health inspectors who OK shellfish for sale will get pink slips, which means shellfish growers are making the painful decision right now to go through with a harvest that will rot or skip this harvest altogether.

More than 31,000 working moms and dads will lose child care assistance, 12,000 children won’t be able to attend high-quality preschool (ECEAP) and 13,000 licensed and exempt child care providers will stop receiving state funding.

No staff will be available to connect more than 16,000 WorkFirst clients with resources and services to help them continue working or to search for a new job.

Washington relies on international trade more than any state, with a shutdown meaning millions of dollars in losses to small and medium-sized businesses that rely on state assistance with exports.

Our state will be in breach of contract on construction jobs in every corner of the state, meaning contractors won’t stay to finish projects for which they aren’t getting paid. They’ll go do other work so they can pay the bills. Taxpayers will pay more for the delay and the cost of rebidding these jobs.

Call to action: What you can do

You can call the Legislative Hotline (800-562-6000) to contact your local members of the House and Senate.

They need to hear from you—not from lobbyists and special interest groups.

The only way we’ll avoid a state shutdown is through compromise and negotiation. Democrats and Republicans will have to work together to make sure the people of Washington state don’t suffer from a needless disaster.

 

Potential Impacts of Partial State Shutdown

Department of Social and Health Services

  • Approximately 25,000 incapacitated adults will not receive basic cash or referrals to housing and other essential services.

Aging and Long-term Support Administration

  • More than 50,000 of the state’s older residents will no longer receive meal services.

Health Care Authority

About 2.2 million individuals will be affected, including about 1.9 million Apple Health (Medicaid) clients and 370,000 Public Employees Benefits Board program enrollees.

  • No payments will be made to providers offering services to Apple Health clients and PEBB enrollees. It is unclear how long these providers would be able to continue offering services without payment.
  • No customer service staff will be available to help either Apple Health clients or PEBB enrollees.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Thousands of veterans and their families will experience disruptions in services that connect them to the benefits they earned.

 

As you can see, we have much work to do in the weeks and months ahead to continue the betterment of your retirement security. Your continued support and political action is a necessity!

Your Voice for Retirement Security!

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