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Many state workers on furlough Monday

OLYMPIA – Thousands of state employees will start another three-day weekend after this Friday, but this one will not include a paid holiday.

Many state departments, commissions and boards are having a forced day off Monday, the first of 10 furlough days the Legislature mandated last spring to help close a looming budget deficit. A state employees union’s request for a temporary court order to block the first furlough was unsuccessful last week.

Most departments will have some or most of their employees away from the office on Monday. Some Washington State Patrol and Corrections workers will also be on furlough, although not the troopers on the roads, detectives investigating crimes or the guards in the prisons.

The Legislature spared employees needed to protect public safety or public health, or to generate revenue. So while many Department of Social and Health Services offices will be closed, child protective workers will be on the job. The state Liquor Control Board administrative staff is off, but state liquor stores remain open.

Some offices under the control of independently elected state officials also won’t be closed because they found other ways to come up with required budget savings. Overall, about a third of all state workers, or between 33,000 and 35,000, are expected to have the day off without pay, Glenn Kuper of the Office of Financial Management said Tuesday.

Departments with significant numbers of employees on furlough include Agriculture, Commerce, Early Learning, Ecology, Employment Security – although local WorkSource offices and the unemployment claims call center will remain open – Fish and Wildlife, General Administration, the governor’s office, Health, Labor and Industries, Licensing, Printing, and Social and Health Services.

Employees from those agencies will have nine more furlough days, roughly one a month through next summer. The state estimates it will save about $70 million through the furloughs.

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