Furloughs bad, but four-day weekend? Better

When is a four-day weekend not necessarily a good thing? When one of those four days is an unpaid furlough.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of state employees are taking a forced unpaid day off Friday as state government continues to deal with its budget crisis.

Employees across state government have been ordered to take at least three furlough days the rest of this calendar year and many state agencies circled Friday for one.

Building a furlough day into a four-day weekend, with the Labor Day holiday on Monday, might ease the sting of losing pay, agency leaders say.

The flip side, however, is that for the public, many state agencies will be closed entirely Friday.

Many state employees are facing additional furlough days. The Department of Education, for example, has ordered five furlough days for all workers except teachers, who have three unpaid days. The department will be closed Friday.

“Giving employees a four-day weekend was certainly part of the discussion, but it wasn’t the only factor considered,” said Education spokesman Dana Tofig.

Most schools are closed or on reduced schedules on state holidays and Tofig said the department tends to get fewer calls from school systems on the days before school holidays.

Other agencies are open Friday but closed on Tuesday. House and Senate employees, for example, will be on furlough Tuesday.

Other agencies that will be closed Friday include:

Board of Physician Workforce

Council of Developmental Disabilities

Department of Administrative Services

Department of Agriculture

Department of Audits

Department of Banking & Finance

Department of Behavioral Health

Department of Community Health

Department of Early Care & Learning

Department of Human Services

Student Finance Commission

Regional Transportation Authority

Technology Authority

Nonpublic Post Secondary Education Commission

Office of the Child Advocate

Office of Planning and Budget

Sexual Offender Registration Review Board

Board of Pardons & Paroles

Medical Education Board

37 comments Add your comment

Doug

September 3rd, 2009
9:40 am

How many of these offices could be eliminated and consolidated, if only we had leaders with guts enough to do so. Do we really need a nonpublic post-secondary education commission, state sex offender registration review board or medical education board? We have other taxpayer-funded entities that could handle those functions.

The only way to reduce government spending is to reduce government, period.

OneChris

September 3rd, 2009
9:44 am

Tough Times calls for action so hope this will end soon! What it takes to end this is hotels doing better, construction loans being filled by banks and small businesses getting backing soon! 2010 could be even worse … what then more job losses I guess.

Huh?

September 3rd, 2009
10:32 am

Wouldn’t it have been smarter to just NOT PAY the state employees for the holiday on Monday, and avoided the whole ‘furlough day’ thing? Oops…I guess I answered my own question in the first five words.

OK

September 3rd, 2009
10:37 am

And how is this different from any other day of the week?

Disgusted

September 3rd, 2009
10:57 am

Someone should look at the wasteful spending of the Technology Authority and how they’ve taken jobs away from people in Georgia and sent them overseas.

Cutty

September 3rd, 2009
10:58 am

Your republican government at work.

octex

September 3rd, 2009
11:46 am

I teach for Atlanta public schools and no furloughs for us!!! WOOHOO

Going Broke

September 3rd, 2009
12:09 pm

Man look at all those boards. We are either missing one or needs to be created. The check to see if shoes are tied board.

cmsfk

September 3rd, 2009
12:29 pm

“Do we really need a nonpublic post-secondary education commission, state sex offender registration review board or medical education board?”

Wow. Perhaps you should do some research to find out exactly what these boards and commissions do.

Thank god none of you run the state–clearly we’d be worse off …

Doug W

September 3rd, 2009
12:37 pm

Huh? says, “Wouldn’t it have been smarter to just NOT PAY the state employees for the holiday on Monday, and avoided the whole ‘furlough day’ thing?”

Your suggestion amounts to asking state workers to work for free. Would you?

Jacket

September 3rd, 2009
12:43 pm

Doug, you may be right; and a top down review is probably in order. Be thankful that we have state and local governments that are acting like grown-ups: making tough decisions instead of maxing out your granchildren’s credit card on senseless programs. One thing that forces state and local government to act like adults is the requirement to balance their budgets. We desperately need that at the federal level.

BTW, I’m feeling the pinch myself. As a BOR employee, I am required to take six furlough day between now and the end of the fiscal year. I obviously don’t like it, but I understand it is necessary.

Seminole84

September 3rd, 2009
1:11 pm

“Your republican government at work.”

Ok…

Dana

September 3rd, 2009
1:31 pm

Enter your comments here

Sympathetic

September 3rd, 2009
1:35 pm

I’d like someone to point out the bright side of Friday’s furlough day to the four Dept. of Ag employees in my office that are being laid off at the end of this month. Talk about salt in the wound.

jsmuga

September 3rd, 2009
2:19 pm

Something might actually get done….

NoTears

September 3rd, 2009
4:08 pm

I am not feeling sorry for these employees. Times are tough and that requires us all to make adjust. Including the government. I took a 35% pay cut and still have to work 40 hr weeks and I lost my insurance. With this economy I am just glad that I still have a job. Suck it up like the rest of us…

NR

September 3rd, 2009
4:28 pm

Can we furlough welfare recipients as well?

Or is it more politically correct to not pay working men and women?

Please Wake Up

September 3rd, 2009
4:43 pm

Your republican government at work.”

nick

September 3rd, 2009
5:08 pm

NR have you ever met a so called welfare recipient? Alot of the people applying for benifits right now are people who have recently lost their jobs and are trying to provide food and health care for their children. As far not paying employees for a state holiday would be a devistating blow to moral and that is just not a good business model. This furlough accomplishes the goal of reducing the budget and avoiding layoffs while somewhat reducing the pain to employees.

dgroy

September 3rd, 2009
5:09 pm

Folks, what we really ought to do is this……all those able bodied people that are on welfare or are drawing unemployment insurance payments should be put to work doing something that would help the state, cities or counties. We’re paying them anyway, why not put them to work.

antoinette bell

September 3rd, 2009
5:11 pm

@ Doug W: You would not be working for free b/c Monday is a (paid) holiday.

td

September 3rd, 2009
5:16 pm

To all of you that are commenting “Republican government at work”. What would a Democratic government do in this situation? Raise taxes? Lay off workers?

Me

September 3rd, 2009
5:28 pm

@dgroy: I agree wholeheartedly!

Buck Ofama

September 3rd, 2009
6:06 pm

I had to go to the DMV the other day, and from the way the employees there acted, you would think every day there was a furlough day!!!

Doug W

September 3rd, 2009
7:33 pm

@antoinette bell: When employers lay off or furlough employees, two things happen: the employees work less and they get paid less. The suggestion by “Huh?” was to not pay employees holiday pay; in other words, work the same amount but still get paid less. That’s a difference that “Huh?” didn’t seem to notice.

look in the mirror

September 3rd, 2009
7:40 pm

I love the fact that of all the usual “I hate ‘gubmint worker” posts nearly all are during normal business hours and the only person identifying him/herself as a state worker did so at lunch. Those who rail against public servants are slacking on the job while they do it, losers.

And I too work for the taxpayers of GA, am not taking furlough on Fri but will do so unpaid on Mon. Of course, I just got home after another 12 hour day on a salary that is barely justified for six hours a day. Yep, damn lazy state workers …

lizzie

September 3rd, 2009
8:55 pm

What is the budget shortfall for FY2010? I don’t recall the Governor announcing the expected shortfall. Since the fiscal year started July 1, has he developed a 12 month plan? Some economists are predicting a more difficult budget for FY 2011 state budgets since the stimulus filled gaps this year. Is that the case for GA?

Sarge

September 3rd, 2009
9:21 pm

The #1 function of government, be it at the national, state, or (sometimes) local levels, is job justification. How is this done, one might ask…fifedom-creation, bloat at just about every functional level. A quick scan of the listed agencies affirms this. Obviously, during better times, our leaders felt that job creation was the order of the day; the more “ants” swarm over a project, the “better” it will turn out…at the same time, increased funding every year is justified by bulging manpower requirements.

I have no doubt there are many diligent workers in government whose only daily objective is to do a good job for the citizenry. Keeping in mind the adage “work expands to fit the alloted amount of time”, one is obliged to view the state’s fiscal difficulties in both short and long view. To be sure, revenue receipts have shrunk, however, someday, (as the proctoligist once said)this to shall pass. Will government return to the same ole same ole? If departments must close down for a day, leadership, at all levels, needs to use this stand down as a look-ahead planning period and start adjusting manpower requirements to meet a leaner operation both now and in the future.

Placing people on furlough, in and of itself, is not the answer. This is an excellent time for leaders to “adjust fire”, not simply to meet the current difficulties, but to meet a leaner future. Otherwise, they are leaders in name only.

look in the mirror

September 3rd, 2009
9:44 pm

Sarge’s post has much truth and he also rightly points out this is not always the case. I will tell you that my group has moved away from the old mold and instead of managing budgets we manage revenues. We have progressed through an intensive process which determines the cost of all products and services we sell, that’s right sell to the citizenry of GA so that we can compare these costs to the market, improve to match costs (and client prices) where this is possible and outsource the rest to the private sector.

There are, in my group, many more diligent, effective, and efficient contributors than not and we work daily to improve at every level. We do so with at long hours and low pay because we have a passion for the work that we do and the services that we provide.

This may not be the norm, but it is a seed that will grow and it is driven by leadership. Any problem wit an organization is rooted in it’s leadership period. Full stop.

I reject the claims of the ignoramuses who would paint all public servants as second class workers and citizens as this is not at all reflective of reality and it reveals the character of an individual ready to damn other without the ability to reflect upon themselves and see that they are likely damning the sloth, ill-will, and inability to produce they despise of themselves.

Lazy State Worker

September 4th, 2009
10:44 am

Um, yeah. When I came to work for the “gubmint”, I took a 35% pay cut from my previous job. Of course I had been laid off and was DESPERATE for a paycheck. Be careful what you wish for. The pay stinks and the benefits are pitiful compared to my old company (except for the paid holidays). The people I deal with everyday are most certainly the dreggs of society. And just yesterday, they had the United Way set up in our building asking for payroll deducted “charitable” contributions”. I figure I already contribute to “charitable” causes when I pay my taxes. I’m paying for lazy, good-for-nothing welfare losers to sit on their butts and do zilch while MY tax dollars pay their rent, health care (Peach Care is FAR better than what I pay an arm and a leg for through the state) and pay for their groceries. I sure wish I could get a deal like that. Instead, the state thinks I’m worth less than $30K a year. Thanks a lot. How DARE you talk about how state workers should be giving more. You most certainly make MORE than I do. Why don’t YOU take some days off without pay after a 35% pay cut. Suck it up? Really? Before you tell me to quit if I’m so miserable, let me assure you. I’m looking as hard as I can for a new job. Same as I have been since last November.

My money says you’ll be the first ones complaining when you can’t get someone on the phone immediately for your “gubmint services”. Oh, sorry! It’s a furlough day. We’re busy “sucking it up”. No Tears, shove it. Prick.

Huh?

September 6th, 2009
12:55 pm

Doug W – I meant that the state employees should work on Friday (instead of taking a furlough day) so they’d get paid anyway, and then not pay for the holiday, when nobody will be there anyway. Same amount of money saved, less inconvenience since office won’t be closed 4 days in a row.

And, that aside, I know plenty of state employees who have to work on their furlough days. With all of the layoffs, there just aren’t enough folks to get the work done….at least not in the area of state government that I’m familiar.

Concerned Faculty, Staff and other Georgia Citizens

September 7th, 2009
8:25 am

AJC is quick to print articles about mandated teacher and staff furloughs, but will not publish Governor Perdue’s recent statement in which he said that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has “exclusive authority” to do what they want with millions of dollars in “deferred USG presidential compensation” packages – not disclosed to Georgia taxpayers. If legislation was corrected, then the Board of Regents would not have the ability to give out funds under the table and furloughs would not be necessary. Is anyone in the General Assembly listening??

Doug W

September 7th, 2009
12:05 pm

@Huh? Less inconvenience for you, but not for the state worker.

People keep trying to explain it to me, but I really did know what you meant. You’re suggesting state employees work the same number of days they were already scheduled to work, but get paid less for it. It doesn’t matter if you say the unpaid day is on a holiday, it amounts to the same thing when you look at the timesheet and the paycheck.

By the way, Georgia Law requires 12 paid holidays a year.

jboy

September 9th, 2009
12:00 pm

The Myan calendar says time will end on December 21, 2012, so we all have only a couple of years to endure life, so hell live it up.

K-12 Georgia Teachers

September 11th, 2009
11:26 am

I am a hard working National Board Certified Music Teacher in Bibb Co Public Schools. I work longer every day than many people in my school – usually 10 hours at school then a couple more at home. I have been furloughed three days so far for this school year along with all the teachers in this state because the state does not have the funds to pay its teachers. By the skin of my teeth, I will receive my hard-earned stipend for National Board Certification again this year but it will be reevaluated EVERY YEAR. I worked harder for that than I did on my masters, and I worked very hard on that with a resulting 4.0.

When I heard about the hundreds of thousands in Golden Parachutes going to University System of Georgia college presidents in BONUSES it made me sick. This supports lavish lifestyles while stealing necessities from the general public. It reminds me of Marie Antoinette’s reference to the poor while living in her lavish Versailles in France…”Let them eat cake!” Good grief! ( If you’ve never seen it, there is resemblance to the ridiculous palaces of the middle east.)

You have the responsibility not to gorge our treasury with this pork barrel while TAKING AWAY FROM THE TEACHERS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EDUCATION AND WELFARE OF OUR YOUTH! You will lose a great work force if you abuse it continually. YES, TIMES ARE HARD. DON’T MAKE THEM HARDER BY SIPHONING OFF FUNDS NEEDED FOR THE EDUCATION OF OUR STATE WHICH IS ALREADY STRUGGLING AMONG THE LOWER RANKING STATES IN EDUCATION!

BE ACCOUNTABLE!

Most Sincerely,
Susan D Mincey, NBCT

Posted in the Houston Home Journal Letter to the Editor Volume 139, Number 061 OPINION Saturday, August 15, 2009

Follow up to “BE ACCOUNTABLE!” – At least pass legislation that will mandate that the BOR is accountable to someone outside the BOR of the University System of Georgia walls.

K-12 National Board Certified Teacher

September 12th, 2009
9:25 am

TO: Governor Perdue, Legislators and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

I am a hard working National Board Certified Music Teacher in Bibb Co Public Schools. I work longer every day than many people in my school – usually 10 hours at school then a couple more at home. I have been furloughed three days so far for this school year along with all the teachers in this state because the state does not have the funds to pay its teachers. By the skin of my teeth, I will receive my hard-earned stipend for National Board Certification again this year but it will be reevaluated EVERY YEAR. I worked harder for that than I did on my masters, and I worked very hard on that with a resulting 4.0.

When I heard about the hundreds of thousands in Golden Parachutes going to all the University System of Georgia college presidents in BONUSES it made me sick. This supports lavish lifestyles while stealing necessities from the general public. It reminds me of Marie Antoinette’s reference to the poor while living in her lavish Versailles in France…”Let them eat cake!” Good grief! ( If you’ve never seen it, there is resemblance to the ridiculous palaces of the middle east.)

You have the responsibility not to gorge our treasury with this pork barrel while TAKING AWAY FROM THE TEACHERS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EDUCATION AND WELFARE OF OUR YOUTH! You will lose a great work force if you abuse it continually. YES, TIMES ARE HARD. DON’T MAKE THEM HARDER BY SIPHONING OFF FUNDS NEEDED FOR THE EDUCATION OF OUR STATE WHICH IS ALREADY STRUGGLING AMONG THE LOWER RANKING STATES IN EDUCATION!

BE ACCOUNTABLE!

Most Sincerely,
Susan D. Mincey, NBCT

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