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Richardson orders furloughs to deal with budget

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By Barry Massey

 Thousands of workers in state agencies in Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration will be required to take five unpaid furlough days to help New Mexico plug a more than $650 million budget gap this year.

To cut costs, the Democratic governor also plans to eliminate at least 84 political appointive jobs and won’t fill 1,000 positions that are vacant because of a hiring freeze.

Richardson siged deficit reduction measures that will save $470 million this year.

The furloughs are the equivalent of a temporary 2 percent salary cut and will save the state $10.8 million. They will apply to employees in agencies under the control of government.

No decision has been made on when the furloughs will start. It’s also likely that some workers in critical health and public safety programs, such as prisons, will be exempted.