Monday, July 21, 2008

Governor: Buyouts not going well

By THEO EMERY • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • July 21, 2008 The state’s voluntary buyout program for state employees is not going as well as anticipated, Gov. Phil Bredesen said Monday, raising the specter of layoffs. Only about 1,400 state workers have sought the state’s buyout as of the end of last week, Bredesen said, well below the target of nearly 2,300 needed. The deadline for state employees to inform the state that they wish to take the package is Aug. 5. “The numbers are not stacking up yet, and the major impact of that is that it opens up the possibility of having to do something more unpleasant -- which is the form of actual layoffs -- later on in the year,” the governor said. Lower-than-expected revenues for the end of last fiscal year, as well as for the new fiscal year that started July 1, spurred the governor to seek about $64 million in savings through buyouts from state workers. Buyout packages were sent to about 12,000 state workers in mid-June, with a goal of seeking almost 2,300 to take the offers and voluntarily leave the state payroll. A hiring freeze is also in place. Bredesen said he had expected too many applicants for the buyouts, not too few, and that he was surprised that applications have so far fallen short of expectations. He said the worsening economy could be a factor. “Maybe because of the economic conditions, not as many people are taking it,” he said. The governor had originally expected to reduce the payroll by just over 2,000 state jobs, but that number grew as department heads reviewed where to make job cuts in their departments.

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