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Virginia workers take an unpaid day off, shutting down state government

Anita Kumar

Virginia state workers took Friday as an unpaid day off, virtually shutting down state government.

Most of the state's 102,000 employees are off, though some of them -- in public safety and healthcare -- took other days off so they could work Friday.

The furlough day is expected to save the financially strapped state government $16.9 million.

Former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) proposed the day off before he left office. His successor, Bob McDonnell (R), recommended 10 furlough days. The state Senate favored six but the House of Delegates did not want to expand the number.

House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) announced last week that he would have legislative staff join the executive branch in the unpaid day off, saving another $35,000.

But there's at least one person working for free today: McDonnell. The governor told listeners on his monthly call-in show Thursday that he'd be hard at work at his office in the Patrick Henry Building despite a lack of salary.

"It's a great job. It's an incredible privilege to be the 71st governor,'' McDonnell said. "If I didn't have five children, I'd do it for free."

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Next: McDonnell names commission on higher ed.


The Governor is not the only state employee who "works for free". There were others at their desks, just catching up on what needed to be done.
I attended the opening of the Chickahominy Water Trail today (Saturday) in James City County, and there were employees from two Natural Resources agencies taking part. And this is not at all unusual. At events across the state, employees whose work has a public component frequently work "for free" on weekends. These include employees from the Dept. of Health, VDOT, Historic Resources, Education, Minority Business Enterprises, and dozens of other agencies. The volunteer work hours put in by much-maligned state employees are taken for granted by many Virginians.
And these people are not making big salaries like the Governor's. When you make only 35K a year (average for state employees), a one day bite hurts. So why do they do it? Ask one. I usually hear something about "I love my job", or "the people of Virginia deserve it", or "there is just so much to do".

Posted by: Quonuske | May 29, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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