Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Governor Says He Thought About Closing State Government on Some Fridays to Save Cash

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge oie_10bredesen.jpg
Gov. Phil Bredesen says he considered--and rejected--shutting down state government every other Friday to cope with Tennessee's financial crisis. The governor made the disclosure this morning as he took questions from state workers on the day the Tennessee State Employees Association sends its members to the Capitol to lobby the legislature.
"What we looked at specifically was closing state government every other Friday for the next year. It doesn't work to just tell people they have to take time off because then the scheduling gets just impossible. The only way anyone's ever done this successfully is to just close the doors, say, every other Friday. "If you do that 24 days a year, you're talking about a 10 percent salary cut for everybody. I said, look, that's an awful tough thing to lay on people. During this time, people still have to pay car payments, they still have mortgages to pay, they still gotta buy food, they have kids in college. There's a million things you do. If you can get at this in some other way without telling everybody, you're taking almost a 10 percent pay cut, I would love to try to do that."
Instead, the governor said, he chose to end roughly 1,000 jobs by eliminating and consolidating some functions of state government. "That's a judgment call," he said. "I certainly admit that. ... We just decided the furlough thing was not as attractive and would not serve the public as well as making the call to make some changes." Also during his Q&A with state workers, Bredesen rejected requests to spend more from state reserve funds to prevent layoffs. The governor already is saving 400 jobs for another year by spending $200 million in state savings. To stop layoffs, he also said he wouldn't chop back one-time 3 percent bonuses for state workers that he's proposing in his budget. But he won applause from the workers by adding:
"I certainly intend to have considerable deference to the legislature's wish in terms of how this money is spent at the end of my time. I'll be gone next year. A lot of them will be here. So in a way that's different from previous years, I kind of feel it's appropriate to have some deference to their wishes in that regard."

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