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Public Employee Pay Raises Become Issue In Wash. Governor’s Race

Austin Jenkins


OLYMPIA, Wash. – The issue of pay raises for public employees is quickly becoming an issue in Washington’s race for governor. There’s much to debate including: a cost of living increase for teachers, a dollar-an-hour pay hike for unionized homecare workers. And an end to a three percent pay cut for state workers.

At the last governor’s debate, Republican Rob McKenna attacked Democrat Jay Inslee’s record as a state lawmaker in the early 1990s.

McKenna said Inslee had voted for a state budget that cut services, “So that the state could give a pay raise to some of your biggest campaign donors, state employee unions.”

Turns out the 1992 budget also eliminated 1,600 state jobs. But just the fact that government worker pay raises from 20 years ago are a topic in the 2012 governor’s race should tell you something: public employee compensation is a political hot potato.

Jason Mercier is a budget analyst for the right-of-center Washington Policy Center. He says the state’s next governor will face a list of spending demands that far outstrips anticipated revenues.

“And both of them have said they’re not going to raise taxes, so if you’re automatically going to give these increases and you’re going to try to do all these other things then you’re tying your hands.”

The budget conundrum aside, public employee unions clearly think Inslee would have their back as governor and are spending a lot of money to help him get elected.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network