Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia budget crisis hits state workers’ paychecks

Many state agencies have stopped hiring, frozen pay, scrapped travel plans and nixed equipment purchases in an effort to meet Governor Sonny Perdue’s call to slash spending.

Some agencies are already notifying employees they will have to take a day off without pay each month because of the state’s fiscal crisis.

In all, Perdue is looking to save about $1.6 billion because tax collections have sagged during the economic slowdown. Collections were off 6.6 percent in July, and Perdue had to use $600 million in reserves to balance the books at the end of fiscal 2008, which closed June 30.

Department of Human Resources Commissioner B.J. Walker already has sent a memo telling employees that, starting in September, they’ll have to take a day off without pay each month. Some key employees in the agency, which has more than 19,000 positions according to the Office of Planning and Budget, will be exempted from the furloughs.

One of the hardest hit areas, and one that faces possible layoffs, may be the state’s university and technical college systems. Combined, the systems employ about 45,000.

The University System Board of Regents is expected to consider budget-cutting plans next week.

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