On the morning of March 25, Kelsey Lundy and I met with Brian McNeil of the Governor’s Office. The purpose of the meeting was to get more insight and understanding of the process by which furloughs would be implemented or exempted based on the recently passed budget for FY2011 and FY2012, which was signed by the Governor on March 18. As explained earlier, those budgets included the permanent elimination of the state employee performance pay as well as implementing 6 furlough days in each of those two fiscal years.
What I had learned the previous day was the arduous process by which a state agency had to apply for any exemptions to the furloughs. Agencies were required by ADOA to list each employee by classification, along with justification for seeking the exemption to the furlough days. During that meeting with Mr. McNeil, I was given the impression that the agency would be allowed to submit units/sections in their furlough exemption application. This was different information that was disseminated by ADOA to all state agencies.
The afternoon of the 25, Kelsey and I met with Director Halliday and Lt. Col. Hegarty to state the position of the AHPA with regards to furloughs and possible further pay cuts. The Director was informed that the AHPA requested that the entire agency be included in the furlough exemption application. This request was based on the specific language contained in the budget bills that indirectly identified the agency (HB2003/SB1003) with regards to the furlough exemption. Furthermore, I stated that under no circumstances would AHPA support further pay cuts to base salary in addition to the elimination of performance pay as outlined by the budget. The deadline for submitting furlough exemption applications was April 2.
On March 26, I received a phone call from Director Halliday, who informed me that the agency was submitting a furlough exemption application and that application was going to include those employees assigned to operations positions in Highway Patrol and employees in Operational Communications.
On April 6, I was informed that the agency did not submit any furlough exemption application. I met with Director Halliday in the afternoon to discuss issues, including the furloughs. While I was given reasons as to why the decision was made to ultimately not apply for any exemptions, I expressed extreme disappointment on behalf of the Association.
Some of that disappointment is also directed at the Governor’s Office and ADOA for implementing a process that made it cumbersome and almost impossible for agencies for submit a furlough exemption application. Based on the explicit language in budget bills 1003/2003, it was clear to us that THE state’s public safety agency could legitimately avoid furloughs and continue providing an important service for Arizona citizens in these lean times.
I will continue to work on this issue with the agency and the Governor’s office.
Article written by/or information provided by Jimmy Chavez