Inslee Wants to Make Sure Pay Raises for His Union Cronies Aren’t Optional

Inslee Wants to Make Sure Pay Raises for His Union Cronies Aren’t Optional

Inslee Wants to Make Sure Pay Raises for His Union Cronies Aren’t Optional

It would be bad enough if the collective bargaining agreements hammered out this summer behind closed doors by the government employee unions and Gov. Jay Inslee were simply a question of redistributing existing revenues.

But it’s even more galling in light of revelations this week that promised across-the-board pay raises are apparently a higher priority than complying with the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling and hiring thousands of new teachers as mandated under Initiative 1351.

All of which could mean a massive tax increase to make sure Inslee’s cronies aren’t left out in the cold when it comes to divvying up your paycheck.

The state’s Office of Financial Management issued a news release this week assuring Washingtonians a $600 million state employee pay raise would be “financially feasible” at current (or at least projected) revenue levels. 

The report, however, made no mention of the McCleary situation, under which the Legislature is currently in contempt of a Supreme Court order to pump billions more into K-12 education. Nor did OFM reference the cost of I-1351, the so-called “class-size” initiative passed by voters in November. 

By state law, the Legislature is required to fund both. 

However, the new collective bargaining agreements, calling for hefty pay raises for unionized state workers, could be scrapped. The collective bargaining agreements must be approved or rejected in a straight yes or no vote, though the Legislature may not amend them. With a Republican majority in the Senate, approving the contracts could be a tough sell—which is why Inslee, who accepted $6 million in contributions from organized labor in 2012, might try a little sleight of hand.

A Seattle Times story this week reported the governor is poised to ask for a $1 billion tax increase—either by hiking the sales tax or imposing an income tax— when he unveils his 2015 budget next week.

Which means he either expects to fund the McCleary and I-1351 increases out of existing revenues and ask taxpayers for a massive tax hike to give state employees a pay raise or, more likely, the pay raise will be rolled into the budget and the legally mandated increases will be funded through higher taxes.

Under either scenario, the teachers’ unions figure to collect, since McCleary and I-1351 must be funded. But the state employee pay raises are optional—at least as far as the taxpayers are concerned.

In Inslee’s eyes, however, making sure all the government unions get a return on their investment is anything but optional. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to pay off with his own money when yours is there for the taking.

As if a $600 million, taxpayer-subsidized return on a $6 million investment wasn’t scandalous enough, it looks like the unions also bought their way to the front of the line when it comes to all the special interests vying for the governor’s attention.

Vice President for News and Information
Jeff is a native of West Virginia and a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in journalism. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., as a broadcast journalist and has worked at a number of newspapers in West Virginia and Washington. Most recently, he spent 11 years as editor of the Port Orchard (Wash.) Independent, which earned the 2011 Washington Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s General Excellence Award as the top community newspaper in Washington. Previously, he was editor of the Business Examiner newspaper in Tacoma, Wash., for seven years. Jeff lives in Lacey; he and his wife have grown twin daughters.