State worker bonuses in jeopardy

Posted at 7:09 PM, May 08, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-09 07:28:18-04

RICHMOND, Va.(WTVR) -- State workers fear they might not be getting a much anticipated bonus.

Governor Bob McDonnell wants to amend the two-year state budget to make worker bonuses contingent on each agency’s ability to save money, not excess state revenue, which was originally a part of the budget approved by the Virginia General Assembly in April.

The amendment would require that state agencies find nearly $70 million in savings by the first of July.

“45 days to me is just not realistic,” argued former state police Superintendent Wayne Huggins.

Huggins said state workers, including troopers, haven’t received a pay raise in five years and are starting to look for work in the private sector.

“Our take home pay has actually decreased, the cost of our health care has gone up…we don’t make that much money to begin with," said Huggins.

The governor proposed the incentive based program back in December as a way for state agencies to run for efficiently and to save taxpayers money.

“The governor’s idea was we could institute gain sharing,” said Virginia’s Secretary of Finance Ric Brown.  “A proposal that if employees saved by the end of the year, we’d share in that and use that as a one-time bonus.”

But after months of wrangling over the budget, the General Assembly approved a plan instead that would tie the one-time three percent bonus to excess state revenues, not agency savings.

Ronald Jordan, the Executive Director of the Virginia Governmental Employees Association, said he supports the General assembly’s Approach.

“There’s very little fat left in state government," argued Jordan. "We’re down to the bone and muscle.”

“In order for agencies to generate any type of significant savings, they have to cut a service or lay people off, or both," he added.

Lawmakers will reconvene on Monday to consider the Governor’s proposed amendment, as well as several others.

While their bonuses are in question, state workers say they are grateful they’ll finally receive a two percent raise in 2013.