The Nevada Personnel Department is taking steps to make sure the state worker furloughs ordered by the 2009 Legislature actually generate the $330 million in savings used to build the budget.
The furloughs were ordered by the 2009 Legislature instead of the
6 percent pay cut for state workers included in Gov. Jim Gibbons' budget. The one-day per month unpaid furlough works out to a 4.6 percent annual pay reduction.
Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said restrictions outlined in a memo are designed to keep agencies and workers from finding ways around the furloughs.
"The agencies have got to realize the financial savings for this," he said. "Employees have to take the minimum eight hours a month."
One of the key restrictions is the ban on workers taking more than eight hours of unpaid leave in a pay week. That prevents a worker from taking five days in a row and filing for unemployment that week. Clinger said allowing that would just cost the state money on the other end since the state is on a "pay as you go" basis with the unemployment insurance trust fund.
In addition, no workers will be allowed to get any overtime or standby pay in the same pay week as their furlough.
Clinger said every employee is subject to the furlough requirements unless an exception is granted by the Board of Examiners.
Clinger said the only agency head who has said he may seek exceptions thus far is Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik. Clinger said that might be necessary because reducing staffing in Nevada's prisons could endanger prison employees and inmates.
He said there will be some flexibility in the requirement workers take at least eight hours of furlough each month. He said his office is one example since it wouldn't make sense to have analysts off during the period from October through December when they are building the budget. He said those workers might have to take more furlough time before budget season so they aren't off in that period.
Likewise, he said it doesn't make sense to be furloughing snow-plow drivers at the Department of Transportation during January and February when they are most needed.
One benefit to workers is the Legislature agreed to maintain their retirement contribution at the full rate so no credit toward that retirement is lost. That, however, means the employees will still see the full deduction from their paychecks to cover the other half of the retirement premium.
Clinger said he is asking Personnel to require agency managers monitor how well they are doing "to make sure the furloughs are taken and we're realizing the savings."
The furlough program starts July 1 with the new biennial state budget. It is supposed to end with the end of the biennium.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.