Contributed image/Washington State Parks There are 17 state parks on the San Juan Islands.

State government shutdown averted, Washington State Parks to remain open | Update

A state government shutdown was averted on Friday, June 30, and state agencies, including the parks, will not shut down.

“Parks are open!” reads the Washington State Parks’ website.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the $43.7 billion budget after 11 p.m. on June 30, just about an hour before the deadline to sign it into effect.

Inslee tweeted at 6:02 p.m. on Thursday, June 29 that state parks would remain open on Friday, June 30, despite park officials’ plans. It takes time for staff to close facilities, according to a statement on the parks’ website, so officials were planning to shut down before the deadline.

If Inslee hadn’t signed the proposed budget by midnight, June 30, the WSP website stated that the “Washington state constitution requires a shutdown of state government services,” including the parks, and WSP staff would begin closing facilities on Saturday, July 1.

If parks had closed, read a statement on the WSP website, it would have taken two days from the closing date to reopen them. To re-open the parks by July 4, the statement continued, the budget would have to be signed by July 2 to allow staff the entire next day to open by Independence Day.

The statement on parks.state.wa.us read:

“Because adequate time is needed to prepare parks for closure, state parks will be closed on Saturday, unless the agency receives notification and guidance from the Governor’s Office that legislators are certain to approve a budget in time for it to be enacted by midnight June 30. Parks staff will need to evacuate campers from the park on Saturday morning, July 1, and will not allow day-use visitors and new campers entry into parks on Saturday.”

The possible government shutdown comes right on the heels of July Fourth — one of the busiest times of the year for parks. According to the WSP website, there are 4,382 park reservation holders in the state for Friday and 5,206 on Saturday.

The San Juan Islands is home to 17 state parks, including Lime Kiln Point on San Juan, Moran on Orcas and Spencer Spit on Lopez.

The Washington Office of Financial Management reported that legislators reached a budget agreement “in principle,” on Wednesday, June 28, which they thought they could pass in time for Inslee to sign before the cutoff.

If the two-year budget didn’t pass, the OFM reported that temporary layoff notices will be sent to approximately 32,000 state agency employees. Affected agencies would have included the state Department of Health, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Patrol.

According to a press release from Inslee’s office, it’s still “unclear whether the Legislature will approve a full capital budget, meaning some state workers will be temporarily laid off.”

The press release also stated that the two-year operating budget would “fully fund” public education and “help families and workers while strengthening Washington’s mental health system.”

Check the Sounder to learn more about how the budget will affect the islands.

Below, watch Inslee sign the budget from TVW, Washington State’s Public Affairs Network.