Democratic leaders propose legislation to block furloughs for state workers

11/17/2010 09:54 AM

Trying to fix what they now call a “mistake,” Democratic House leaders are hoping to end furlough days for state workers during this year’s short legislative session.

Democratic Rep. John Will Stacy, the House majority whip from West Liberty, pre-filed a joint resolution in advance of the 2011 session that would block Gov. Steve Beshear from furloughing any more state employees through June 2012.

State workers already have served half of the proposed six furlough days ordered by the governor in July. Three scheduled furlough days remain. The administration has estimated the furlough days will save the state $24 million in the first year of the budget cycle and would prevent layoffs of state workers.

If Stacy’s joint resolution passes both chambers it would ban the furloughs through the remainder of the budget cycle, which ends June 30, 2012.

Stacy could not be reached for comment.

But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports the bill and has asked to be a co-sponsor of the bill when the session begins.

“Furloughs were a bad idea in retrospect,” Stumbo told cn|2 Politics on Tuesday. “And that’s a lot of what the short session is for, correcting those mistakes.”

In a statement, Beshear said talks of ending the remaining furlough days, or furloughs for the second half of the budget cycle, were premature.

“It is too early to say what, if any, actions will be taken on furloughs, and we are in constant discussions with legislators in a variety of issues,” Beshear said.

State workers unsuccessfully tried to block the furlough plan in court earlier this year. State police, corrections officers and workers at 24-hour mental health facilities have been exempt from the furlough days.

The governor was given the authority to furlough by the state legislative through an amendment to the 2010-2012 budget bill passed in May during the 2010 special session.

Stacy was one of several lawmakers who spoke on behalf of state workers at a rally against the furloughs in August.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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