Current as of February 23, 2010
The House Ways and Means Committee has begun consideration of the state’s appropriations measure for the year upcoming, and has added a stipulation that could impact all state employees in the fiscal year ahead. It remains to be seen whether this stipulation will be adopted by the full House, much less the full General Assembly, but I wanted to let you know about it since you likely will see and hear media reports about it. Please keep in mind the proposal would take effect with the fiscal year that begins next July 1.
A proviso adopted at the committee level this week would require all agencies to institute a “mandatory employee furlough program of five days to be taken on legal state holidays” next year. The reductions in pay related to those furlough days would be withheld over the remainder of that fiscal year, rather than in the pay period of the furlough/state holiday. How this would be administered in a higher education context as opposed to other state agencies has not been articulated at present, since most of our state holidays are not taken on their respective calendar dates. That remains an issue to be addressed -- if the overall proviso survives the legislative process.
Winthrop and other universities have asked that campuses have flexibility to cope with any future appropriation reductions as best fits respective individual circumstances -- which may or may not include furlough days. I continue to believe that approach to current circumstances is best for all concerned, as furlough days should be a last resort.
There is still a long way to go in the legislative process -- and it will be some months before that process is finalized. We are working within the process and will continue to keep you updated on any key matters, including the holiday furlough proposal, as warranted. The Ways and Means Committee likely will wind up its work this week, with the full House taking up the appropriations measure for the next fiscal year beginning the week of March 16.
Meanwhile, I spent this past weekend with our Board of Trustees in a weekend-long on-campus retreat. The trustees expressed enormous gratitude for all that continues to be accomplished at Winthrop while we both meet current state circumstances and plan for the Winthrop needed by future students as well. As always, please allow me to add my own thanks on that front, too.