Lawmaker Proposes Deferred Payment Plan for State Workers
By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Hard times in state government are likely going to get worse before they get better.
With agencies cutting back and furloughing employees, one state lawmaker has a plan he says will ease the situation.
State Representative Randy Terrill says instead of furloughing employees let them work unpaid furlough days in exchange for a promise to pay them later.
Some agencies have already furloughed employees, some are waiting till next year, and others know furloughs are coming over the next three years.
Terrill says his plan should be welcomed by agencies that provide critical state services.
"Places like the Department of Corrections where we're already short-staffed, the Highway Patrol, which may have to take some furlough days later in the spring, and we expect them to be out on our highways; veteran's centers and mental health facilities," Terrill said.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association likes the plan--and says it's an improvement over current furlough policy.
"At least with this alternate option, there would be some sort of compensation," said Executive Director of OPEA Stearling Zearley. "It may be down the road, or they make their annual leave date at another date, but there would be some compensation. Right now there's nothing."
But some state employees, at the Pardon and Parole Board, for example, are skeptical.
"I have polled my clerical staff that I supervise; they looked at me and laughed because there's no promise that we're going to get paid later," Juanita Lozier with the State Pardon and Parole said.
Terrill also wants the legislature to expand existing state programs for early buyouts of state employees.