Furlough Fridays Begin

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, February 5, 2009

The DMV is always pretty busy.  But it may soon be a little busier.  All field offices are closing the first and third Fridays.  That’s what most state agencies are doing to comply with Governor Schwarzenegger’s order that workers take two unpaid days off a month.  Armando Botello (buh-TAY-oh) is with the DMV.  He says the impact will be felt most during those weeks the DMV is only open four days:

“We are anticipating that the rest of the days of that week, that the offices are open, will be busier than usual.” 

The news didn’t sit well with some customers at one Sacramento-area DMV.  Steven Pratt was there to renew his car registration:

 “It kinda sucks.  It limits when people can come in and out of here and I know it has to do with budget cuts, but still, it’s not a good thing.”

Arthur Molina was also renewing his registration.  He figured he wouldn’t really be affected:

 “I’m not going to be here next week or the following week or the week after that, so what do I care?”

Many other state departments will also close the first and third Fridays – including Veterans Affairs, Fish and Game and most offices at the California E-P-A.   But some departments – like the one that handles unemployment checks will stay open.   So will prisons and hospitals.  Most of those employees will bank their furlough days – but all will take the nearly ten percent pay cut.  Parks will stay open too. Those workers will stagger their days off.  But Roy Stearns with State Parks says visitors may still notice a change:

“This just means fewer people – the barebones crew -has less time to do the work that needs to be done to have a park ready for visitors.”

There are 238-thousand state workers – and the Governor says all should be furloughed.  However some disagree.  Statewide elected officials, like the Controller and the Attorney General, say the Governor doesn’t have the authority to force that on their staffs.  They say they won’t go along with the plan.  The Governor’s office has threatened to sue if that happens.   Meantime, lawmakers and the Governor are still working on a deal to balance the state’s 40 billion dollar deficit.  It’s possible that whatever plan they come up with would do away with the furlough plan altogether.