The first draft of the capital budget emerged from the Senate Finance Committee today with no big surprises, as of yet. At $1.9 billion, the draft looks to be as austere as billed. If it holds to that, which is likely won’t, it will be the smallest capital budget in five years.
The operating budget is currently in conference committee, where the two bodies have appointed conferees to work out the differences between the two houses, line item by line item. And that’s a lot of lines and a lot of discrepancies to get through. It’s a public process. But you’d likely need to be down in Juneau to watch it as the committee can meet at a moment’s notice.
In any case, the operating budget is likely to be smaller than last year’s as well. Part of those savings are going to come from union contracts negotiated by the administration. In the next fiscal year, the 16,000 or so public employee unions will only get a 1 percent raise. That’s less than the unions were asking for, but more than Republican legislators wanted to give them.
The unions also agreed to change the way that leave is accrued by state workers. As it is now, workers can accrue an unlimited number of vacation and sick days, and cash out on those days whenever they want at their current pay level.
If all the accrued leave was cashed out tomorrow by union workers, the state would have to shell out more than $164 million.
The Department of Administration put together a list of the ten workers with the most accrued leave, totaling $1,668,031.
One worker has more 3,838 hours, giving the worker a balance of $240,903. Another worker has more than $239,000 coming to him or her. That’s in addition to their rather cushy retirement package.
Now, workers won’t be able to amass more than 1,000 hours: still many more than most of the private sector would allow, but not enough to provide a cushy second retirement.
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