State workers to get furlough notices starting Tuesday in preparation for possible shutdown

OLYMPIA -- State legislators still haven’t come to an agreement on a budget, which means furlough notices will start going out Tuesday to about 25,000 government employees.

They will be told they will be out of work starting July 1.

Deborah Brookshire and Ginger Bernethy work for the Employment Security Department, helping unemployed people around the state get benefits and find new jobs.

But they don’t know if they’ll have a job themselves in a little over a week, because of the state budget stalemate.

“I expect the Legislature to do the job they were elected for,” says Brookshire. “To have the deadline come and go, to have a special session, now another one, and you just can't seem to come to an agreement, is very frustrating.”

More than 900 people in the Employment Security Department are expecting to get furlough notices Tuesday, because their jobs aren’t considered essential. They say it’s hard to plan, not knowing how long they could be out of work.

“I really had a rough time this weekend because I had to get a couple tires for my car,” says Bernethy. “The question was, do I go with the extra tire mileage or stick with the 40,000-mile tires and pay a little less?”

“Most of the people in America are one or two checks from being homeless,” adds Brookshire. “To think you're going to be in that situation when you've been a pillar of the community for so long, it's really scary.”

But they say they’re more concerned about the customers that will be left without services if their offices have to close. They say if the entire state government has to shut down, everyone will be affected in some way.

“If you want to get a license, you're not going to get it. You want to go to the park, you're not going to be able to. It's going to have a big fallout, it's going to cost the state millions of dollars a day.”

They’re hopeful it doesn’t come to that. But they want legislators to know the consequences.

“There is a way to get it done, they have a timeline to get it done. All I ask is that they do the job they were elected to do,” says Bernethy.

“If this is what your job is, we're expecting you to do it, we're paying you to do it, and you have the citizens of Washington counting on you, why can't you get it done?” adds Brookshire. “You should be able to.”