Special session: State furloughs to remain as is; Senate passes four-day week bill | NevadaAppeal.com

Special session: State furloughs to remain as is; Senate passes four-day week bill

GEOFF DORNAN and BRIAN DUGGAN
Nevada Appeal Capital Bureau

The governor and lawmakers have tentatively agreed not to increase the furloughs imposed on state workers.

State workers were hit with an eight-hour unpaid furlough each month during the 2009 Legislature. That translated to a 4.6 percent pay reduction and was very unpopular with employees.

Gov. Jim Gibbons’ original plan to balance the budget in the face of an $888 million shortfall called for the eight-hour monthly furlough for all state workers to be increased to 10 hours, a move that drew protests from state workers who say they were being hit harder than other public employees.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said Friday when the loss of merit pay, longevity pay and other cuts are added in, state workers have actually taken an 11 percent reduction.

“That’s probably higher than any other government employees,” she said.

Buckley said lawmakers don’t believe that’s fair so they decided to take the extra two hours of unpaid leave each month off the table. She said the governor’s office has indicated it will support the decision.

“I’m pleased there appears to be agreement that we will not be increasing the pay and benefit cuts to state employees,” she said.

The decision will add about $6.8 million to the total revenues needed to offset the shortfall.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed the bill that would close most state offices on Fridays. The potential change to furlough time would mean the Senate would have to reconsider it.

Senate Bill 3 had undergone a series of amendments throughout the special session because it originally asked local governments to furlough employees.

But cities and union groups opposed the measure, saying it would interfere with their employee contracts. The bill still asks, but does not require, local school districts to furlough employees.

The most recent version of the bill also appears to strip the furlough exemption given to the Department of Corrections.

The Senate, which passed the measure in a 19-2 vote, sent the legislation over to the Assembly for consideration late Friday where a vote wasn’t expected until this morning.