Sandoval Announces 5 Percent Pay Cut For State Employees Instead Of Furloughs

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval delivered the bad news in an email to state employees today: His budget will propose a 5 percent across-the-board salary reduction for state employees instead of continuing with a furlough program.

“We must also continue the suspension of merit pay and longevity pay,” he said in the letter.

The change means a slightly larger pay cut than the 4.6 percent reduction in the one-day-a-month unpaid furlough program in the current budget.

“In my meetings with Cabinet officers, I heard consistently that the furloughs are difficult to manage,” Sandoval said. “They result in poor customer service and leave employees with unfinished work that awaits their return after a furlough day. While the 5-percent reduction represents more of a sacrifice than the 4.6 percent, I am hopeful there is a trade-off in workload management.”

Sandoval pledged that he and his staff will take the same 5 percent pay cut.

“I  regret that my first communication with you is to deliver news of this kind,” he said.

Heidi Gansert, chief of staff to Sandoval, said the letter was sent to alert state employees of what is in the upcoming budget to be unveiled Jan. 24.

Besides being difficult to work with, Gansert said the furlough program affects customer service.

“There’s inequity,” she said. “There are some people who take the furloughs and there are others who have been exempted out of the furloughs. This puts everyone on an equal footing.”

Gansert acknowledged that moving to a pay reduction will mean more work and less pay than under the furlough program.

She also acknowledged that the pay cut proposal was not vetted with legislative leadership.

“We had not talked about this specifically,” Gansert said. “The governor had discussed repeatedly in various discussions . . . that we were going to do something that was furlough-like.”

Former Gov. Jim Gibbons also proposed a 6 percent pay cut for state employees in his 2009 budget. The Legislature opted instead for the furlough program.