The Senate is debating a bill to manage ferry system costs.
The bill originated in the House — their version says that the legislature intends to address ferry system costs in the future. The Senate has previously passed a bill that does more to limit costs.
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen: “This bill makes huge steps in the right direction to address some concerns we’ve had,” she said, including collective bargaining, efficiences and more. “It is a good bill, it was carefully worked … I think that we need to move forward and send this bill back to the House with a huge vote. That makes a huge difference,” she said. She added that if they don’t pass the bill, they’ll hear about ferry costs more in the future.
Sen. Cheryl Pflug: “How can you defeat an amendment to prevent what is clearly cheating and then turn around and say that we are really cracking down on abuse?” She was referring to an amendment that would not allow ferry workers to be paid for transportation time. During her floor speech on the amendment, she said one ferry worker recently made $60,000 in salary but $72,000 in travel costs to and from work. “How can you say we’re concerned about the funding? How can you say that we want to run this like a business and then turn around and do that? This is not right.”
Sen. Dan Swecker said he was also disappointed that amendment didn’t pass, but that he supports the underlying bill. “It gets to conform our negotiating with the union to the same kinds of standards that are applied to all other state employees,” he said, and creates “checks and balances” for ferry management. “Overall, I think this is a strong net gain in our management of the ferry systems.”
The Senate passed the bill, 39 to 9. It now heads back to the House.