Gibbons vetoes four-10 work week bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Gibbons vetoes four-10 work week bill

As promised, Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed the bill Thursday that would have put state offices on a four-day, 10-hour work week, saying the legislation appeared to be a good idea but, in practice, is unworkable.

Gibbons’ administration originally recommended the plan, but the governor said he has since concluded it doesn’t work.

“Instead of creating flexibility for the state’s agencies to implement innovative work schedules that would save the state money, Senate Bill 3 will actually cost the state time, money and manpower to implement,” he said in his veto message.

SB3 was a cornerstone of measures lawmakers approved during a six-day special legislative session to close an $805 million budget deficit.

Legislative leaders expressed disappointment and puzzlement over the governor’s veto.

“It’s rather interesting because the bill was drafted at the governor’s request,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas. “We worked with his budget director, his personnel director on the drafting of the measure.”

The bill established four-day, 10-hour work weeks for most state agencies beginning July 1 and required any employees granted exemptions from a one-day-per-month furlough to instead take a 4.6 percent pay cut.

“It was one of those items where he convinced me it was a good idea,” said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.

Gibbons said the bill would have created confusion, uncertainty and inequity among employees.

In addition, he said by giving the legislative Interim Finance Committee authority to control any exemptions from the mandatory furloughs that are already in place, the legislative branch is violating separation of powers and infringing on the authority of the executive branch.

Buckley disagreed.

“To have a body, whether it be the Board of Examiners or the IFC, approve exceptions, that’s commonplace,” she said. “It’s to ensure agencies on their own don’t exempt themselves from law.”

Gibbons also had proposed eliminating shift differentials and 5 percent salary incentives provided to some state workers, but in the bill, lawmakers reinstated them for any employees who received them by Feb. 23, when the special session began.

“I called upon the Legislature to make fiscally responsible reductions to the state’s spending,” Gibbons said. “Recalling my directive will actually cost the state millions of dollars.”

Buckley countered that lawmakers felt state employees, who took an 11 percent hit last year in reduced pay and higher benefit costs, had sacrificed enough. To take away incentives already being received was not only bad policy but legally questionable, she said.

Gibbons said the veto shouldn’t prevent implementing most of the elements in the bill.

“We will be able to do many of those things by executive order without having the restrictions put in by the Legislature,” he said.

He said it will be up to each of his department heads to decide how best to meet the salary reduction targets set by himself and lawmakers and that each department may have to choose a different approach.

Of the four-10’s schedule, Gibbons said, “We may not be able to do it but we’re certainly not going to allow the Legislature to encroach on the executive branch.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.