Influencer Spotlight: State employees spark probe, might avoid furloughs

06/15/2011 05:22 PM

One state employee successfully called for an investigation into potential improper hiring in the Agriculture Department.

At the same time last week, Gov. Steve Beshear signaled that he would seek to avoid requiring unpaid leave days for state employees in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Both developments could have political implications on the governor’s race.

A Personnel Board investigation into hiring in the Agriculture Department could be an unwelcome distraction for Richie Farmer, who is running for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket.

Meanwhile, leaders of state worker groups have warned that Beshear hurt his standing with state employees by pressing forward with six furlough days for state workers during the current fiscal year.

Beshear opted to furlough workers to save $21 million, which he said avoided layoffs. But both Republican Senate President David Williams — Beshear’s rival in the fall governor’s race — and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo opposed furloughs.

Beshear issued a statement Friday saying with state revenues headed in the right direction, he planned not to have to implement furloughs.

Those developments placed state workers in the forefront of Kentucky politics last week and landed them as the subject of the most recent “Influencer Spotlight,” which aired on Monday night’s edition of “Pure Politics.”


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