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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy open to public worker furloughs sought by Sweeney

By Nikita Biryukov, May 05 2020 4:33 pm

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.”

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