Legislators weigh furlough option

By FRED LUCAS State Journal Staff Writer Published:

By FRED LUCAS

State Journal Staff Writer

As budget concerns grow, some lawmakers are considering reducing the number of hours in a work day or the days in a work week as an alternative to laying off employees should the need arise.

That's according to Personnel Secretary Carol Palmore, who said she has heard talk from some legislators about the possibility of furloughs, or reduced work time for employees. Palmore declined to say which legislators are looking at such a recommendation, but she said she could support it.

"I would much prefer a furlough initiative to seeing any employees laid off," Palmore told The State Journal Tuesday shortly after testifying before the interim joint committee on appropriations and revenue about employee matters. "I started working for the state in January of 1982 during the (Gov. John Y.) Brown layoffs, and state government still hasn't recovered."

A furlough would work by giving employees a six- or seven-hour work day instead of the usual eight-hour day, or having a four-day work week instead of five days, Palmore said. It could also use seasonal employment for park employees or others, she said.

Though Gov. Paul Patton and Palmore have both said employees likely won't have to be laid off, the possibility still weighs on the minds of many employees as the state faces a nearly $400 million budget shortfall, according to the latest forecasts. Palmore said state employees she has talked to support a furlough system over layoffs.

For more on this story, see today's State Journal.

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