SPOKANE, Wash. - Demoralized by cutbacks and layoffs, Washington State
workers are picketing the governor's Eastern Washington office in
Spokane today. They're protesting further cuts to state-run hospitals
and the corrections system - cuts recommended in a new consultant's
report. One suggestion it made is to close or downsize five facilities
for people with serious physical or mental disabilities and shift those
clients, wherever possible, into private care.
However, private options do not exist in some parts of the state, according to Washington Federation of State Employees
director of public affairs, Tim Welch.
"One of the flaws of this report is that they did not take into account
the cost of those transition services. If you have to create a whole
new system in the community to care for these clients, it may not save
the state money."
The recommended additional closures and/or downsizing of state-run
facilities total 250 beds in residential centers for people with
disabilities, 235 beds in Juvenile Rehabilitation and 1,580 beds in
The Medical Lake City Council already has voted to oppose the proposed
cuts. Welch says the residential facility there, Lakeland Village,
could be reduced in size from 238 beds to 26.
"There would be hundreds of jobs lost. In the Medical Lake community,
for example, you have Lakeland Village, you have Pine Lodge
Correctional Center, you have Eastern State Hospital - all of which
have been targeted with either reductions or partial closures. You can
imagine the economic impact on Medical Lake."
In addition to issues with relocating facility residents, Welch says
almost any community with a state-run institution stands to lose jobs
if the legislature adopts the recommendations, which come on top of
other cuts already in effect.
Picketers will be out from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today at the
governor's Eastern Regional office, W. 1611 Indiana St., Spokane.
The one-week public comment period on the draft report ends on
Wednesday, Oct. 21. The final report will be presented to the governor
and legislature on Nov. 1.
The consultant's recommendations are available on the Washington Office of Financial Management web site, www.ofm.wa.gov, where public comments also may be made today and Tues.