Inslee was in Yakima Tuesday, COVID press conference (Jay Inslee)
Inslee was in Yakima Tuesday, COVID press conference (Jay Inslee)

Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement Wednesday that read in part:

"COVID-19 has hit our state hard and our economy has taken a severe hit as a result. These are very difficult decisions but they are necessary to address the financial shortfall that we are facing,” Inslee said. “Every day state employees serve the people of Washington with dedication, and these actions do not reflect on that commitment or quality of their work. In this current financial situation, everyone needs to make sacrifices and we know this will not be easy. I know that our state will come out of these difficult times stronger than ever.”

This was in reference to a move that many GOP legislators, citizens and political observers say was 2 months late, a freeze that will directly affect at least 5,600 state workers. From from Inslee's office:

"The canceled pay raise will affect nearly 5,600 general government employees. This includes Exempt Management Service employees, made up mostly of state agency executive and senior-level managers, and Washington Management Service employees, largely mid-level managers across state government.

Other union-represented and non-represented classified employees will still get the general wage increase.

In addition to cancelling pay raises, starting no later than June 28, more than 40,000 state employees will be required to take one furlough day per week through July 25. After July, employees will be required to take one furlough day per month at least through the fall.

Employees will also be allowed to take voluntary unpaid furloughs."

So some workers will not have the pay raise go through, thousands will furlough, but the union represented workers will still get their raise.

Critics also question the timing.  The state has known about the $7 billion dollar revenue shortfall for at least six weeks or more, it's the reason legislators have been clamoring for a special session to adjust the budget between now and 2023.  Critics say it's a political ploy, aimed at tamping down some of the fires that threaten his re-election campaign; namely the ESD embezzlement failure, the "that's news to me" comment about the Seattle CHOP area invasion, and other issues.

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