MADISON - Don't count on getting a new
driver's license the day after Thanksgiving: The Department of Motor
Vehicles, along with other state offices, will likely close that day
under the governor's plan to furlough state workers.
Gov. Jim Doyle has ordered 16 unpaid
furlough days over the next two years as a way to help close a $6.6
billion state budget shortfall. The idea of shutting down state
government offices to help achieve that came Tuesday as part of a list
of options for state agencies to meet the order.
State offices are already closed for
seven holidays each year.
The other new days where most of state
government will be closed are President's Day, the Friday before
Memorial Day and Columbus Day, which is the second Monday in October.
The furlough days would start with Columbus Day this year and end with
the Friday before Memorial Day in 2011.
The furloughs are expected to save
about $121 million over the next two years, according to Office of
State Employment Relations director Jennifer Donnelly. Up to 1,500
state workers would have to be laid off to generate the same savings
as the furloughs, Donnelly said. Under the state budget pending before
the Legislature, about 1,400 state workers could be laid off under
proposed spending cuts.
It's not mandatory that state agencies
close those days, but the state is asking that they do shut down
unless there's a compelling business reason to stay open.
Other options for meeting the furlough
order including accepting a 3.06 percent pay cut instead of taking
unpaid days off or reducing work hours each week the equivalent of 16
The goal is to give agencies as much
flexibility as possible to minimize disruptions in service, said
Even though most of state government
likely will shut down those four days, students at the University of
Wisconsin shouldn't start planning any three-day weekends. Because all
of those days except the day after Thanksgiving conflict with class
schedules, the university will not be complying, said UW President
Kevin Reilly in an e-mail to faculty and staff.
The university hopes to make its
furlough plan public June 30, Reilly said.
State prisons, hospitals, power plants
and other offices that can't close down will also have to find ways to
implement the furloughs that will keep overtime costs down, Donnelly
The furloughs apply to all 69,000 state
employees, no matter where they work or if their salary comes from the
federal government or other sources, she said.
Donnelly said the state was talking
with state employee unions about opening collective bargaining
agreements to implement the pay cuts and to pursue other options. A
spokeswoman for the 10,000-member union AFT-Wisconsin had no immediate
comment. Marty Beil, executive director of the 20,000-member Wisconsin
State Employees Union, did not immediately return a message.