Friday, April 24, 2009

House Speaker: Expect Freeze on state employee merit raises for next fiscal year

Facing a looming state deficit, House Speaker Jim Tucker wants to reduce the size and cost of state government. One avenue involves the procedure for layoffs.

The state government’s employment agency is proposing new rules involving government employee layoffs.

The proposals being considered include eliminating “bumping rights” and allowing a one-time, lump-sum buyout to encourage retirements.

Instead of using seniority to determine who is protected from layoffs, job performance ratings would be used under the proposed revamp by the Civil Service Department.

Tucker said unclassified employees — political appointees who have no job protection — would be the subject of employee reduction moves as well as rank-and-file classified employees.

Tucker also said he anticipates a freeze on state employee’s annual 4 percent merit pay raises in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Freezing or reducing merit pay raises is one of the avenues available to state agencies to avoid employee layoffs under current Civil Service rules.

Layoff rules are being revamped and proposed changes are scheduled to go before the Civil Service Commission for approval in June. They cover classified state employees.

Two public hearings will be held before the State Civil Service Commission which has final sign-off on the changes. The hearings will be May 6 and June 3.

With commission approval, the changes would go into effect June 3 — prior to the June 30 end of the state fiscal year.

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