OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington State Senate Democrats released their proposed budget Monday morning. In a surprise move with major ramifications for Pacific County, the senators rejected Gov. Chris Gregoire's plan to close Naselle Youth Camp and plan instead to close the 120-year-old Green Hill juvenile prison in Chehalis.
Washington State House Democrats will release their budget plan on Tuesday. Both the Senate and House plans will be extensively debated and reworked. Democrats possess decisive control of both halves of the Washington Legislature. Typically, final differences in budgets and legislation are hammered out during intense last-minute negotiations just before the legislative session ends. This date is currently set for April 26.
Possible closure of Naselle Youth Camp, one of Pacific County's top five employers and its only significant state facility, has generated heated reactions from local citizens and lawmakers.
Senate budget leaders have scheduled a hearing Monday at 3:30 p.m. before the Senate Ways and Means Committee in Cherberg Senate Hearing Room 4 to begin working through the details of the proposed cuts.
Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, is leading efforts to keep Naselle open, possibly as a trade-off for support on other items by Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond.
According to the Chehalis Chronicle, the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration is preparing for the possibility that Green Hill could be transformed into an adult facility.
"The linchpin for the case to keep the facility open is the nature of the inmates who reside there," the Chronicle reports. "Green Hill Superintendant Marybeth Queral said the indications she is getting from Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration leadership are that the recommendation from the Legislature will be to close Green Hill and combine it with Maple Lane School in Grand Mound."