OLYMPIA -- The Senate could vote as early as Friday on a bill to require most state workers to take a day off a month without pay, Majority Leader Lisa Brown said today.
Plans to cut costs or raise taxes will come out in phases, Brown said. Right now, Senate Democrats appear to have support for a plan to require most state employees to take one-day furloughs for 13 months. The days are generally on Fridays or Mondays, which would create a series of three-day weekends in which most state offices are closed.
The exceptions would be state agencies that deal with public safety and health, she said.
The support from the unions that represent the state's workers is uncertain, but the alternatives will be cuts in services and layoffs, Brown said.
That plan also has salary freezes,and limits on bonuses. It could save the state as much as $120 million, but considering the state's budget gap is an estimated $2.6 million "we've still got a long way to go."
Democrats will release the next phase of their plans for budget revisions, which they are calling the Jobs and Economic Development Agenda, next Tuesday, Brown said. The final budget bill won't be released until after the next revenue projection comes out in mid February.
In a discussion with reporters, Brown said it doesn't appear a proposed ban on guns that are often referred to as assault weapons has enough votes to pass the Senate. Some Democrats also think bill that would restrict bail for some suspects who are facing life sentences -- a concept Gov. Chris Gregoire said she supports -- goes too far, but "it's too early for me to know" if it has support to pass the Senate.
She also suggested a plan to privatize state liquor stores may be on the rocks. Some people support it because they believe the state shouldn't be in the business, but it doesn't really provide any money to help with the state's budget problems, she said. And the budget is the main focus.
"I doubt if a proposal like that moves forward this session," Brown said.