Gov. Phil Murphy is willing to discuss public worker furloughs sought by Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“We’ve said to the Senate President that, as a conceptual matter on furloughs, we’re open minded to that,” the governor said Tuesday.
In April, Sweeney proposed partial and temporary furloughs for tens of thousands of state officials in a bid to cut costs amid a pandemic that has thrown New Jersey’s budget into a near-cataclysmic state of disarray.
The Senate president’s proposal calls for furloughs on up to a quarter of state, county, local and school workers.
A provision in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act providing $600 per week on top of state unemployment benefits, some public-sector workers would make more while collecting unemployment insurance than they would at their government jobs, Sweeney said.
Under a separate CARES Act measure, the federal government will cover 100% of state unemployment benefits to furloughed employees in states that have job-sharing furlough laws.
New Jersey passed such a law in 2011.
It’s not clear which employees would be furloughed under the plan.
“People are working to the bone, so I don’t where a lot of that opportunity is,” Murphy said. “But if there is an opportunity, we’re open-minded to it.”