State worker furloughs got under way Tuesday at two Olympia-area agencies, and spokesmen for Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget office released a list of other agencies that will follow suit with shutdowns next Monday.
The furloughs, or temporary layoffs, are expected to affect up to one-third of the state government and higher education work force, saving about $38 million in state general fund payroll and $35 million in payroll from other sources. For many workers, the layoffs will take place on 10 different days through next June.
The closures also will shutter part of the Legislative Building, ending public tours on Mondays.
Agencies run by independently elected leaders such as the Office of the Secretary of State will remain open for business.
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Under terms of Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6503, the furloughs exempt many job categories – including corrections and probation officers in the prison system, state troopers patrolling highways, hospital and health lab workers, and those engaged in collecting money for the state such as revenue agents and liquor store employees.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia had its one-day furlough Tuesday, and the agency will monitor savings to see if more days off are needed. The Department of Retirement Systems in Tumwater also went first on Monday but is expecting to take nine additional days.
Other closure days that affect most agencies are Aug. 6, Sept. 7, Oct. 11 and Dec. 27 this year and Jan. 28, Feb. 22, March 11, April 22 and June 10 in 2011.
Reactions to the furloughs have varied, but few workers speak out publicly against them. Some told The Olympian last month they were afraid of losing their jobs, while others said they were not allowed to speak.
“I’m OK. I’m grateful to have a job,” said one Department of Licensing worker named Tammy, who declined to give her full name when a reporter asked for her opinion. “We’ve got co-workers and spouses that have been out of work for a year.”
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/politicsblog