Earlier today, news broke that the state’s budget deficit – previously estimated at just over 5 billion dollars for the biennium – has exploded to up to $6.5 billion. In the wake of that news, Governor Jim Doyle announced his plans to close the new budget deficit with layoffs and furloughs of state employees:
Gov. Jim Doyle said Thursday the budget deficit has exploded to up to $6.5 billion – a historic gap he wants to fix by laying off hundreds, furloughing all state workers for 16 days, rescinding 2% pay raises for some workers and deeper cuts in aid to schools and local governments.
In addition to the 8 day per year furloughs for the state employees who are fortunate enough to keep their jobs, Gov. Doyle also wants those employees to take a pay cut:
The state will ask union members to reopen contract negotiations to achieve a similar 2% in payroll savings, or about $36 million a year. If the union doesn’t negotiate the pay cut, the state would need to lay off about 400 workers over the next two years.
What the Journal Sentinel’s article doesn’t mention is the fact that the 8 unpaid furlough days state employees will be forced to take is the equivalent of a 2 percent pay cut, so in addition to the 2 percent cut employees would take from the unpaid furlough days, Gov. Doyle wants another 2 percent in pay cuts.
While Gov. Doyle’s plan to cut state jobs and mandate unpaid days off for state employees may be cheered by many – including more than a few conservatives – as Dan Cody points out, it’s important to remember that state employees, while quick to be demonized by many on the right, have families to feed and bills to pay just like any other citizen. By and large the vast majority of state employees I’ve met are good, hardworking people who do the jobs they do not just for the pay and benefits, but because they’re committed to doing their part to make this state a better place to live, play, work, and raise a family.
So before you cheer the governor’s plan to lay off some state employees and cut pay for others, just remember how you’d feel if you were in the same situation.
NOTE: Edited to include a link.