After six unpaid furlough days last fiscal year, state workers will again feel the pinch of budget-balancing measures as their paychecks, originally slated for Friday, will be delayed to Monday.
Though the state has notified banks of the delay, leaders of state employee unions say frontline workers are still concerned about mortgages, car payments, rent, credit card bills and other expenses that may be due by July 1, which is Sunday.
“While a lot of vendors or a lot of people who are owed money have been realistic and understand, ‘It’s OK, we’re going to give you a couple days,’ there’s a lot of folks that haven’t been, particularly credit card companies,” said David Smith, president of the Kentucky Association of State Employees.
“… The other thing is, you’ve got to put gas in the car, and you’ve got to put milk and bread on the table. When that money’s not there, it makes it very difficult.”
The current biennium ends Saturday, and the 2010-2012 budget mandates that the final payroll can’t be paid before Sunday. That means this payroll cycle will come from the 2012-2014 budget, which calls for similar delays in 2013 and 2014.
Employees were notified of the late payroll when they received their April 30, May 30 and June 15 paychecks, according to a memo from Mary Harrod, director of the Division of Employee Management in the Personnel Cabinet.
The cabinet worked with the Kentucky Bankers Association to notify banks of the delay, but employees were told to work with their banks in regard to scheduled payments, the memo says.
Smith says he understands the reasoning behind the delay but questions whether it’s necessary.
“It’s like when you open up Pandora’s Box,” he said. “Sometimes when you open up Pandora’s Box, you get good things.
“A lot of times, though, you get unanticipated consequences and you end up with a lot of bad things that are happening because of it.”
KASE has established an assistance fund for members who may need a quick loan to make it through the weekend, Smith said.
Julia Johnson, president of local 2259 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said some frontline state workers already live paycheck to paycheck.
She called the delay a “trick” because the state will still have to pay employees.
“It may not seem like a big delay, but people, especially at the lower end of the pay scale, they depend on their check when it’s supposed to be there,” Johnson said.
Brent Sweger, president of the Kentucky Transportation Employees Association, said there’s been some grumbling among transportation employees about the late checks, but the delay hasn’t been much of an issue.
Still, he said some employees may see their checking accounts overdrawn over the weekend, especially with the use of automatic withdrawal to pay some bills.
“I think there is going to be some hardship,” Sweger said. “From what I understand, some of the local banks here in Frankfort are working and delaying some of those automatic payments.”
Some state employees are enrolled in direct deposit while others receive paper checks. Both will be issued Monday.
Johnson said she knows of some social workers with families who may have to borrow to make ends meet through the weekend.
“It’s not as bad as furloughing, but even so, why should we have to take it on the chin?” she asked. “… I think it’s just another example of them balancing the budget on the backs of state workers.”