TRENTON (AP) — Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Tuesday proposed a two-day furlough for state workers to help close a widening budget gap and threatened layoffs if their unions do not agree to wage freezes starting in the summer.
The governor asked state employees last month to accept a wage freeze for the second half of this fiscal year, but union leaders have so far refused to renegotiate their contracts.
Forcing state employees to take two days off without pay would save $35 million, the governor said at a news conference.
“Unprecedented action is necessary to keep the state on sound financial footing,” Mr. Corzine said.
Hetty Rosenstein, the state director of the Communications Workers of America, the largest state workers’ union, said the furlough plan “violates our contract and represents an assault on our collective-bargaining relationship with the state."
The proposal to furlough state workers in the spring is part of the governor’s plan to cut $473 million more from the budget for the 2009 fiscal year in the face of a deepening recession.
He cut state spending by $600 million before approving the state’s $33 billion budget seven months ago, and last month proposed an additional $812 million in cuts on which the Legislature has not yet acted.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Governor Corzine said that the cuts would have been even worse if New Jersey were not getting an estimated $850 million in federal stimulus money.