Corzine proposes 2-day state worker furlough

February 17, 2009 7:57:30 PM PST
Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Tuesday proposed a two-day furlough for state workers to help close an ever-widening budget gap and threatened layoffs if unions don't go along.

Requiring state employees to take two days off without pay this spring would save $35 million, the governor said.

"Unprecedented action is necessary to keep the state on sound financial footing," Corzine said at a news conference.

If employee unions - which have opposed renegotiating their contracts - don't agree to the plan, layoffs might be necessary, Corzine said.

The state-worker furlough is part of the governor's plan to cut another $473 million from this year's budget in the face of a deepening recession.

He cut state spending by $600 million before approving the budget seven months ago, and last month proposed another $812 million in cuts that the Legislature hasn't yet approved.

The state constitution requires the governor to maintain a balanced budget.

Tax collections - including money generated from sales taxes, income taxes and business taxes - were down by $526 million in January. The state Treasury Department reported shortfalls of $354 million in December and a combined $411 million in October and November.

New Jersey's tax collections are off $2.8 billion in the fiscal year that started July 1.

Corzine also announced that he will put more money into the state unemployment fund to avoid an automatic tax increase to businesses.

The governor is scheduled to give his budget proposal for next year on March 12.