Democrats introduce bill to prevent state employees from being furloughed

House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs
House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs

House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, D-33rd Dist., and members of the Democratic Caucus introduced a bill on Wednesday to halt the shutdown of state government and prevent the furlough of state employees.

“State employees should not be used as political pawns and held hostage during this budget debate,” said Democratic Leader Burroughs, who represents a district in Wyandotte County. “Democrats want to ensure hard working state employees get paid and that state government continues to operate uninterrupted.”

Rep. Jerry Henry (D-Atchison), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, stressed that although the House was debating the budget, there was no guarantee a bill would pass in time to prevent a government shutdown. “This bill is a simple fix that would appropriate funds to cover state employee paychecks for the next two months,” he said.

Speaking to the nearly 15,000 state employees at regents institutions, Rep. Barbara Ballard (D-Lawrence) said: “A government shutdown is the last thing our universities need, especially considering the potential for further budget cuts.”

Rep. Annie Tietze (D-Topeka) highlighted recent attacks on state employees by the Brownback administration. “Over the past five years, state employees have been required to do more with less. Their budgets have been continuously reduced, their salaries have remained stagnant, and they have been victims of demeaning and disrespectful legislation.”

In calling for the passage of the bill, Rep. Burroughs criticized Gov. Brownback, saying: “It seems that Governor Brownback didn’t just import Washington-style politics in the form of a nasty campaign, but also in the form of policymaking that brings government to a screeching halt.”

“How many times up do we hear about the need for regulatory certainty? The need for businesses to know what to expect so they can plan appropriately,” Rep. Burroughs asked. “Democrats believe the nearly 40,000 state workers deserve that same certainty.”

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