Special session: Legislature approves elimination of added furlough hours to workers
The Legislature has given approval to an amendment that eliminates the added furlough hours the governor recommended imposing on state employees.
Gov. Jim Gibbons proposed raising unpaid furlough leave from eight hours to 10 hours each month to help balance the budget. Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said that was unfair to state employees, who she said are being hit harder by reductions than any other public employees.
When other cuts such as longevity and merit pay are added in, she said the average cut for workers is about 11 percent.
Eliminating the two hours each month will require about $6.8 million in added funding during the biennium.
Asked how the eight-hour furloughs would work with those workers who go to four 10-hour shifts each week, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said that would be left to individual agencies and employees to work out. She said, for example, those workers could take two hours of comp time so they didn’t have to come to work that day.
“I agree our state workforce has been doing overtime, so I support restoring their two hours,” said Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno.
Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said those provisions and others in Senate Bill 3 provide fairness among the various groups of state workers.
SB3 implements the four-day work week in state agencies but also requires that those who can’t take furlough leave take a commensurate pay cut. The majority of exempt workers are correctional officers – nearly 2,000 of the 2,700 exempt workers in state service.
Prisons and hospitals, which can’t shut down to a four-day schedule, are exempted from the law.
K-12 class sizes to grow
In addition, two bills designed to provide school districts more flexibility in their use of state money received final legislative approval.
Assembly Bill 4 temporarily lifts the restrictions on the number of pupils in grades one through three. In grades one and two, the maximum class size would rise by two students to 18. In grade three the maximum class size would rise by two students to 21.
AB5 temporarily waives the requirement that school districts spend a certain amount of money each year for textbooks, instructional supplies, software and hardware.
Those changes were requested by school district superintendents who said that flexibility would give them a better ability to handle budgetary cuts by the state.
Both of those changes expire June 30, 2011.
Those changes were requested by superintendents.