We should learn about $20 million or so in state budget cuts Monday morning. Affected state workers are supposed to get the news first thing, then the list goes public on the Web at 10 a.m. You should be able to see it HERE
This list will not include the sort of deep wounds that leave large numbers of people reeling, according to legislative and administrative negotiators. Those are coming next year.
Even if this isn't the big wallop, there will be layoffs among this group, they say. Not wholesale layoffs, but some number of people will lose their jobs. If the job that's cut happens to be yours, it doesn't matter how many they're talking about, it feels like a wallop.
If the job belongs to the person at the desk next to yours or across the room, it's not a pretty feeling either. I learned a bit about that in recent months and I can tell you that watching layoffs unfold around you is akin to learning someone has died. In effect, something has died - a person's livelihood, their sense of who they are. It's not a small thing.
There are, no doubt, some uneasy state workers tonight. To them, I offer empathy. I've always understood on some level that job layoffs are hard. I have a new understanding for it these days though, and unfortunately, I'm not the only who does.
The administration put out a news release Sunday night saying budget cut negotiations stalled at $19.7 million. When I saw the word "stalled" I thought maybe the cuts weren't going to be announced Monday, but that's not what it meant at all.
To characterize this as a stall is a little odd because both sides were well aware where each other stood on the size of this week's cut.
On Friday, Administration Secretary Neale Lunderville and Sen. Susan Bartlett sat next to each other and described their situations, nodding in affirmation of one another. Lunderville wants the Leggie's Joint Fiscal Committee to do the full $37 million ASAP; the Legislature wants to make non-policy cuts now (about $20 million worth) and wait until the full leggie is back to tackle anything that's a policy decision - i.e. who gets health-care subsidies and who doesn't. Now you can argue that the JFC is taking this policy thing too literally, but to say the talks have stalled suggests there's some surprise screaching halt and that is not the case.
- Terri Hallenbeck