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Furlough day shifted

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By The Staff

Gov. Bill Richardson, responding to concerns from many state employees, agreed to shift one of the upcoming furlough days in order to avoid impacting three consecutive paychecks.

“I understand these furlough days are difficult on our employees and their families,” Richardson said. “I agree with the many employees who suggested spreading out the impact of the furloughs.”

The governor’s Furlough Plan will save another $8.1 million — on top of the $8.3 million that will be saved by the elimination of several state exempt positions, he said.

The revised furlough plan, which will be presented to the State Personnel Board on Dec. 16 for its approval, includes the following five furlough days, or alternative dates for about 17,000 state employees:

•  Dec. 24, 2009;

•  Jan. 15, 2010;

•  March 5, 2010;

•  April 2, 2010; and

•  May 28, 2010;

The revised furlough plan, which was approved by the governor’s chief of staff, makes limited exceptions for about 4,100 employees based on public safety, health and welfare.

Most of the exceptions are for direct patient care in hospitals and health facilities; custody staff in state prisons; state police patrolmen and dispatchers and security staff in juvenile justice facilities.

In addition to the exceptions, the revised furlough plan allows for alternative furlough dates in several areas of state government. Employees working on alternative furlough dates will still be required to take five furlough days off.

For example, State Parks employees will be allowed to take three of their furlough days on different days in March, April and May so all 34 state parks can remain open during popular holiday weekends in the spring.

Also several highway maintenance workers will also work on alternative schedules to ensure snow-removal crews are fully prepared to deal with winter storms.

Employees in agencies that are receiving a limited exception or an alternative prescribed schedule for furlough days will be notified by their agency head.