Governor Deval Patrick says he will eliminate 2,000 jobs unless public employee unions make concessions, including possible unpaid furloughs.
Patrick’s approach contrasts with that of New York Governor David Paterson, who also on Thursday, proposed a plan to close a shortfall of at least $3 billion–six times the size of the Massachusetts gap–without requiring any sacrifices of the state’s 230,000 employees (here, here).
According to the Boston Globe (here), Patrick “will ask executive branch managers to take an unpaid furlough of up to nine days.”
Besides layoffs and furloughs, employees could feel the brunt of the budget crisis in other ways. The head of the state’s Group Insurance Commission, which oversees employee health benefits, said yesterday the agency will consider raising copayments for doctor’s visits, deductibles, or premiums.
“A person would have to be naive not to realize we all have to take a look at our budgets and see what we might have to do,” said Dolores Mitchell, the commission’s executive director….”When the Commonwealth is facing this kind of budget crunch, everything is on the table.”
In New York, making similar changes to employee health benefits likely would require approval of labor unions.
While Paterson currently has no plans for furloughs, state workers don’t think he’s ruled them out, according to the Albany Times Union (here).
Furloughs ahead?Union officials are wondering: Will Paterson call for unpaid furloughs to save money? The governor says “everything’s on the table” but refuses to answer directly.