Mar 252003
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

Budget cuts may force state employees to take three days off without pay in April and May.

Gov. Bill Owens, preferring to keep state money in agriculture and tourism, refused to budge on the majority of his economic stimulus package.

Legislature budget writers voted Monday to recommend to the full legislature a three day unpaid vacation for all state employees. This furlough would save an estimated $9 million.

CSU employees had mixed feelings about the news.

Susan Suzuki, administrative assistant in the sociology department, was angered at Owens’ solution. She thinks people who make more money should face harder cuts because they can afford it.

“People on that higher end of the salary scale – they should take double the time off,” Suzuki said. “Our office is already hurting from budget cutbacks.” She said the sociology department has suffered from the budget cuts with trash pick-up and mail delivery slowing.

Stephanie Daigneault, a secretary in the anthropology department, does not think the furloughs are such a bad idea.

“If it prevents people from losing their jobs, I think it’s a great idea,” Daigneault said. “Everyone of us can do a little bit to keep that (job loss) from happening.”

Lorraine Dunn, an administrative assistant in the history department, agreed.

“It’s the opposite of share the wealth,” Dunn said. “Let’s share the pain.”

Jupe Herrick, assistant dean and director for the College of Engineering, thinks the impacts may be more emotional than financial.

“If you apply the furlough disproportionately, then it sends a message to whoever gets it that they are somehow less important than others,” he said. He hopes the cuts are applied evenly across the board.

“I think if furloughs are going to be required, they should be required for every class of employee.”

Herrick estimates the financial impacts to be minimal for most employees.

Dunn is not as sure she will remain financially secure.

“I’m barely scraping by as it is,” Dunn said. “(But) I’d rather suffer a little bit than have someone lose their job.”

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