As of this date, the Legislature has not approved a state operating budget for the 2013-2015 biennium. In light of the possibility of not having a budget by July 1, many employers have questions about DRS’ contingency plans for a possible shutdown of state government services. While DRS is not a General Fund agency, almost all of the money it expends (97 percent) is explicitly authorized by the Legislature. That makes DRS an “appropriated agency,” which means nearly all of our operations are subject to the requirements of a shutdown.
Here is a link that summarizes the core activities that would continue at each state agency, including DRS, in the event of a shutdown.
For DRS, it is primarily about meeting constitutional obligations to keep pension-related money moving in and out. Only a small number of team members would be here to perform these required functions. Essentially, we would continue to process data and payments from employers, and pay retirees their monthly pensions. Nearly all customer service functions would be shut down. We want to be clear that determinations about which services would continue is not a matter of choice or about whether one service or program is considered more important than another. These decisions are purely a matter of legal or constitutional obligation.
We want to echo Governor Jay Inslee in emphasizing that state agencies have an obligation to plan for a shutdown even though it is a worst-case scenario. This is a difficult process for all of us, especially because of the uncertainty it creates for our customers and partners. Even so, it is our responsibility to have a plan in place in the event the unlikely comes to pass.
We continue to believe there will be a budget agreement before the end of the month. In the meantime, DRS will maintain its dedication to providing the very best in service for our customers and partners.
Should you have any questions regarding this notice please reply to this email or contact Employer Support Services at 360-664-7200, option 2, or 800-547-6657, option 6, option 2.