In a May 13 memo, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) directed state agencies to identify operating budget savings options to reduce state spending by 15% from the fiscal year 2021 state appropriation. This exercise was necessary as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on Washington State’s revenue picture. Agencies were provided a deadline of June 1 to submit their savings options to OFM.
This is the first step in the budget savings process and the next steps will be forthcoming in the days or months to come. The savings options put forward by DCYF are just a proposal and many could not be implemented unless legislative action is taken. DCYF’s proposal does not include widespread layoffs or reductions to current salaries.
Budget Reduction Criteria
DCYF leadership outlined the following criteria in the approach to the budget savings exercise. We prioritized the following:
- Resources that focus on core responsibilities outlined in DCYF’s vision and strategic plan.
- Programs and services that reduce racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes across all DCYF systems of care.
- Prevention services and intervention solutions to keep children, youth and families safe in their community and not going deeper into the DCYF system.
- Funding for programs and policies that have demonstrated their effectiveness in improving outcomes through evidence-based and promising practices.
Major Themes in Budget Savings Proposal
DCYF submitted a 15% budget savings proposal amounting to $155,364,300 general fund state. The budget savings options fell within the following themes.
- Total budget savings proposal is $7,625,000.
- Agencywide savings options are primarily comprised of directives issued from the governor’s office.
- Examples for the proposed budget savings include the current statewide hiring freeze, which excludes staff that directly impact public safety, the personal service contracts freeze and equipment purchases.
- Total budget savings proposal is $11,060,298.
- These implementation delays cause no impact for staff reductions.
- An example of an implementation delay option for the proposed budget savings is the cost of living adjustment (COLA), which is a 3% salary increase scheduled to take effect for all state employees on July 1, 2020. The option put forward is to implement the COLA increase on July 1, 2021.
Improving Agency Business Practices and Innovation of Services
- Total budget savings proposal is $48,956,313.
- Improving agency business practices and innovation includes areas where we can streamline and issue guidance for best practice. This category also includes areas where we can earn additional federal funds, which would result in state savings.
- Examples for the proposed budget savings options include urinalysis (UA), which would be achieved through issuing best practice guidance of when to refer for a UA. Other examples in this category include exploring grant options for post-secondary programming for JR to 25 and using some of the one-time COVID-19 money from the federal government to fund a rate increase in child care. Providers will need this as the costs of smaller group sizes are difficult to manage.
Evidence-Based Practices and Effectiveness
- Total budget savings proposal is $35,881,041.
- Reduce or eliminate programs for which there was no evidence of effectiveness.
- This category also includes proposing eliminating expansions of programs, like most of the ECEAP expansion slated to start in the fall.
- Total budget savings proposal is $51,841,648.
- Savings from caseload decline are projected in child welfare, early learning and juvenile rehabilitation. Particularly worth noting is most of the savings in child welfare are attributed to foster care caseload decline, resulting in less foster care maintenance payments and has no direct impact on staff.