Decision on furloughs for 693 state workers postponed

CARSON CITY -- A decision was put off until next month about requiring an unpaid furlough day per month for 693 state employees whose salaries are funded entirely by the federal government.

The state Board of Examiners agreed with Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's request to delay a decision on the furloughs until an April 26 meeting.

Masto questioned why the state should lay off the employees when their salaries are 100 percent paid for by the federal government.

The state was "turning back" federal dollars, Masto added.

The employees work for the Office of the Military, or National Guard, with firefighters employed by the Division of Forestry and Department of Employment, Rehabilitation and Training staff members.

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger said the furloughs were needed for "equity" with other state employees.

He said that 1,900 Department of Corrections workers, who have been exempt from furloughs, will be required to take mandatory monthly days off without pay starting in July.

Rather than turning its back on federal dollars, Clinger proposed the agencies hire additional workers with the money they would save through furloughs.

But Cindy Jones, administrator of the state Employment Security Division, said she would have to negotiate with the federal government to determine whether they could use the furlough savings funds to hire new employees.

"I would be happy to find any way to get people back to work," Jones said.

Masto said the agencies should discuss with the federal government first whether additional workers can be hired through money saved on furloughs.

Gov. Jim Gibbons, the chairman of the board, agreed to her request to defer any action until the April 26 meeting.