Las Vegas Sun

October 30, 2014

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Bill to adopt four-day work week for state employees introduced

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Gov. Jim Gibbons' plan to close state offices on Fridays and require state workers to take slightly longer unpaid furloughs was introduced in the Senate today.

The bill, SB3, calls for state offices to be open 10 hours a day Monday through Thursday and closed on Fridays. Individual agencies, such as the state Department of Motor Vehicles, could apply for exemptions.

Asked if it would be an inconvenience to the public, Lynn Hettrick, deputy chief of staff to the governor, said the four-day week was met with wide acceptance when Utah state government began using it recently, and some local governments in Southern Nevada have long used it.

The bill, part of the effort to close the state's $887 million shortfall, would permit local governments, including school districts, to adopt a furlough program.

The 2009 Legislature required state workers to take eight hours of furlough a month, the equivalent of a 4.6 percent pay reduction. This bill would require state workers take 10 hours of furlough each month, or the equivalent of 5.75 percent.

Since the 2009 session approved furloughs, 2,600 state workers have been exempted. The current bill eliminates all exemptions, while permitting agencies to apply for exemptions.

But state Budget Director Andrew Clinger said the intent of the administration is not to grant any exemptions.

Clinger said Howard Skolnik, director of the Department of Corrections, has agreed to run the prison system without an exemption.

The furlough plan would apply to the Nevada System of Higher Education but the board of regents would be allowed to grant exemptions. It would be up to the regents to consider recommendations from the various campuses or employee groups.

Clinger said state workers would not lose their retirement or leave benefits with the higher furlough requirement. But he said the freeze now in effect in granting increases for longevity will continue.

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