ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland budget officials outlined furloughs for state employees Monday, saying they will shut down most of state government for five days around holidays and require as many as five more additional stay-home days for the highest-paid employees.
The shutdown, announced after weeks of discussions with union representatives, is expected to save about $75 million as officials try to find $470 million in savings to address a budget shortfall due to the recession.
"The administration and the exclusive representatives have discussed the state's continuing fiscal crisis and the urgent need to yet again take prompt and decisive action to achieve reductions in spending," T. Eloise Foster, Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget secretary, wrote to union officials in a letter Monday.
The shutdown and furloughs will affect more than 67,000 of the state's 80,000 employees.
Patrick Moran, executive director of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said he was disappointed in the decision.
"We just think that there are other avenues that they could take, and the administration chose to go in a different direction," Moran said, mentioning the closing of a corporate tax loophole as one possibility.
State government will be closed except for essential 24-hour emergency services on Sept. 4, the day before Labor Day, Nov. 25 the day before Thanksgiving, Dec. 24, the day before Christmas, Dec. 31, the day before New Year's Day and May 28, the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.
Employees who make less than $40,000 will have the option to use earned, personal or compensatory leave to make up for two of those days, and the overall loss in salary will be spread out over the fiscal year.
Employees who make $40,000 or more will take an additional three to five furlough days of their choosing, and the salary will be taken out of the pay period. Employees who make between $40,000 and $49,000 will take three furlough days; people who make between $50,000 and $99,999 will take four days; state employees who make more than $100,000 will take five furlough days.
It's the second time O'Malley has implemented furloughs to address a budget shortfall. The administration used a more scaled back furlough plan in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30. That plan shuttered state government for two days and required an additional two to three days for employees who made more than $40,000.
With more time to work with in the current fiscal year, the administration decided on more furlough days for the higher-paid workers.
The administration is working on finding a total of about $470 million in budget cuts before Labor Day.
Spending reductions will be brought to the Board of Public Works on Wednesday. O'Malley already has said about $250 million in reductions will come from cuts in state aid to local governments. The rest will come from cuts to state agencies.
The board approved about $280 million in savings last month.