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Judge to rule Thursday in state furlough lawsuit

September 01, 2010 | | Comments 22

By John Cheves – jcheves@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A judge said he will rule Thursday on whether state employees need to report for work Friday.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd heard more arguments Wednesday from state workers suing to block Gov. Steve Beshear‘s planned six-day unpaid furlough of most executive branch employees during Fiscal Year 2011. The first furlough day would be Friday.

Beshear has said furloughs are needed to cut about $24 million from the state’s $131 million budget deficit, and without furloughs, he would have to fire more than 400 employees. State workers, represented by a union, argue that many state agencies are dangerously understaffed, which furloughs would aggravate. Also, they say, the loss of pay would hurt them financially.

Shepherd said Wednesday that he’s sympathetic to the workers’ plight. Losing six days of pay would hurt a corrections guard trying to support a family on $24,000 a year far more than it would hurt a political appointee who makes $100,000 a year on top of a state pension, which raises fairness concerns, the judge said.

However, to grant an injunction blocking the furloughs, Shepherd said he would have to find that Beshear broke the law. The General Assembly this year gave Beshear permission to do what he did, Shepherd said.

“The budget bill gives the governor extremely broad authority to enact a furlough plan,” Shepherd said.

Last week, the governor amended his furlough plan to exempt employees who provide direct patient care at state mental-health facilities; corrections officers and medical personnel at state prisons; and Kentucky State Police officers and communications personnel.

Filed Under: State BudgetState GovernmentSteve Beshear

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  1. UKFAN says:

    If Beshear is going to have to fire 400 employees unless there is a furlough, then why are people still getting employeed starting dates of September 2, 2010. Please explain Gov Beshear

  2. state employee says:

    what a crock. KSP is doing furloughs for civilians, however, the KSP page just posted that they are accepting applications for new troopers. They don\’t have enough money to not furlough the rest of the staff who the troopers depend on daily, yet they have the money to hire new officers even though they just graduated about 40 troopers? Odd don\’t you think?

  3. observer says:

    What doesn’t the judge understand? Every employee takes the same number of days. Regardless of salary, it is the same percentage cut in pay. People that make $40,000 have obligations and bills to pay too.

    But state police and corrections officers should have to take something. That is unfair – that most employees lose pay and they don’t.

  4. Phillip Mann says:

    Retire from State Government after 37+ years. Seems nothing has changed. They have tried to make for all revenue shortfalls in the last several years on the backs of State employees. We have been easy marks with no representation to protect our rights. It appears the administration has always found money for pet projects, office renovations, new flat screen tvs, travel to destinations for “business trips” that benefit the Commonwealth, and they all seem to be on red carpet expenditures. Cut out the political appointees and a fortune will be saved. Can’t identify the appointees? Ask a career State Employee and they will point them out very quickly!!

  5. t says:

    Wonder why it is taking the judge so long to look further into this. I thought he was going to do something after 7 days (which was Monday) but it didn’t take place until today. I may be wrong but I get most my news/info on this website. Also I think the groups excluded from shutting down Friday should be given a rotation to take the furlough – they are no better than the rest of the state employees. Don’t they already rotate their shifts?

  6. Concerned citizen says:

    If losing 6 days of pay is going to put a financial burden on any employee, then they are in serious trouble. If it will save our state 24 million, it should be done. I have seen many female state workers having their nails done on state time. They say their bosses let them!

  7. capital mom says:

    Beshear is toast–there is no need for the furloughs–plus he is firing and demoting folks who supported him financially-Williams and Farmer just have to promise state workers they will NOT furlough them to get tens of thousands of votes from state workers and their families–

  8. beagle says:

    The problem with that theory is that the state will not save $24 million. I work for state government, but none of my salary or the salary of any employee in my agency comes from the general fund. So, the net savings for the state budget from furloughing Fish and Wildlife is $0. Pricless, right?

  9. Jake says:

    My question to the fish and wildlife beagle, do the fees by the ky taxpayers also pay for your health insurance, your retirements, vehicles, gas and so on, I bet the budget people have to chip in somewhere for the fish and wildlife. I don’t think just the fees from licences are the only source for all of your benefits.

  10. state employee says:

    Police services are necessary and for anyone who suggest they be cut, I suggest you think of what the consequences would be. What would you do if your house was being broken into but the police were off on a furlough day? Some counties only have one trooper to patrol the whole county. Putting the trooper on furlough means no police coverage. If corrections officers are furloughed then who is going to babysit the prisoners? Even if you rotate it, someone would end up working overtime to make up for the lack of staff. Why pay overtime to someone if your goal is to cut costs? Most of you probably don’t know this but the prisoners have internet and cable tv. Wouldn’t you rather they cut out that expense instead of furloughing necessary employees? Secondly, sure the governor says it’s saving the state money, however, if I’m not working, guess what? The state is not getting my tax dollars so in reality, the state is LOSING money because the taxes that come out of my check will be less since I’m not working.

  11. unfair says:

    Stop whining, take your furlough days, and just be thankful you have a job. If you do not want your job, someone else just might.

  12. Buck Feshear says:

    Hopefully Judge Shepherd realizes that he has thousands of state employees who will be casting ballots for or against him next time he runs for his circuit judge’s seat and will rule accordingly.

    “unfair,” you sound like one of those liberals who think that if one person suffers, everyone should suffer; and correspondingly, if one person succeeds they ought to share the wealth and everyone ought to succeed. Just because some businesses are having a tough time doesn’t mean that employees at other places of work should also have to have a tough time.

  13. inspector says:

    A guy I work with just retired in July and told us before leaving that he will be back in 3 months. Sounds like he is connected an is going to be a double dipper. If you can not make after you retire then way retire. That is all I want to know.

  14. Jake says:

    State employess, don’t worry about those six days to help balance the budget, when David Williams is gov.,there defintely won’t be any new revenue, he thinks that state gov. is too fat now, he already said that there’s about 5000 too many state employees now. I just hope you’re not one of the 5000 that loses their job

  15. Bonzo66 says:

    Jake, you stole my thunder. I’ve heard Williams say the same thing. Capital Mom: for the reason above, Williams won’t get 10% of state employee’s votes. He has shown great disdain for the average worker, primarily becasuse he wants to replace all of us with “good republicans” if he gets to be governor. He’ll try much the same things that got Fletcher in trouble the last go around.

  16. t says:

    KSP can be a joke at times. My house was broken into last year, trooper responded, spent @ 3 hrs recording info, inspecting house & even took fingerprints. When I contacted him about any progress – he wanted to know who responded to our call. Guess we got lost in the pile of papers. I’m not bitter, but I’m learning. Sorry to get side tracked but I don’t think they have to shut down the KSP but rotate the personnel just as they are doing other agencies. I work for an agency that doesn’t involve the general fund either but I’m getting my 6 days just the same & making plans to do things I would have to take personal or sick time to do if we were working those days.

  17. George says:

    Again, a good idea gone bad. They need to rotate the furloughs and have some take off Tuesday, some take off Wednesday and some take off Thursday. None should take off Monday or Friday as it just gives them a three day weekend. Guess the next time my employer decides to reduce my benefits or make me take a cut due to tough economic conditions, I should sue. How dumb is that. I hope the judge holds the union responsible for legal costs to defend this. A bunch of ungrateful people. You got a job, all of us have to take a cut in the past two years, be happy it is only 6 days and shut up!!

  18. beagle says:

    I don’t know about everyone at F&W, but my salary, benefits, office space, vehicle, gas, etc. are funded 25% by hunting license sales and 75% by federal (Pittman-Robertson)funds. The federal funds come from an excise tax on hunting and shooting supplies. So, there is some federal tax money involved, but you only pay it if you buy something that includes the embeded excise tax.

  19. Ruth says:

    Judge Shepherd, just rule and quit stalling. You aren’t going to stop the furloughs the day before they happen. Get real.

    Whether you like them or not, the legislature said to do them. State workers should blame your senators and reps.

  20. Bea says:

    Fair would be the entire state shouldering balancing the budget and not just the state employees. A 1% tax increase would make everyone accountable and not just pick on one sector of the population. Then I could see this as being fair. Stop putting all of the burden on the state employees. This is a sad time for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Governor has not helped things a bit. People will be deciding which bills they can pay and which ones they can hold off on. This will just continue to create a vicious circle of everyone being in debt over their heads. I hope the Judge will stop it before it happens.

  21. Iman says:

    it is not fair furlough only state employees. Another public sector, Higher eduction has much big number of employees. they keep same superior insurance and without any furlough. UK just keeps buying more I-phones for its employees to play, and UK president made the national top 20 paid list to lead a 4th tier college.

  22. state employee says:

    george, why do you think we’re not entitled to a 3 day weekend? If we have to take a day off unpaid then we should either be given a three day weekend or chose which day we have off. It’s the least they can do for putting those of us us who barely make above minimum wage in a bad situation. Most of you on here are probably rich, corporate executives who also think it’s “unfair” that their company has to lose bad in a recession so you punish the rest of society by raising your prices. Now that is what’s unfair. Do you see KU, Fifth Third, or American Water taking furlough days? Of course not.