Spreading the budgetary pain

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — Everyone will be affected by the next round of state budget balancing.

Thus far, lawmakers have been able to fill budgetary voids by sweeping money out of the cubby holes of state government and cutting back on agency spending.

But next time the pain will be felt almost everywhere. The easy cuts have been made. Further cuts will affect services. Some of those services are not really noticed.

Who wouldn’t like to see the budget of the Taxation and Revenue Department cut? Arizona did it and lost state revenues totaling many times the budget savings.

State employees felt the hammer on the latest round of budget cutting. Some 17,000 will have to take five unpaid furlough days.

Instead of spreading those days throughout the year and keeping state government open, the days will be designated by the State Personnel Board on Dec. 16 and state offices will be closed at those times. The recommendation to the board from the governor’s office will be for the days to coincide with upcoming holidays.

It will mean longer weekends but a lower paycheck may put a damper on how those days are enjoyed. The governor’s original proposal would have lowered three consecutive paychecks during and after the upcoming holidays.

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