Furloughs, salary freezes likely coming for state employees

Gov. Steve Sisolak delivering remarks to state employees via video in June.
Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a letter and video message to state employees on Thursday.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Thursday that state employees will likely face furloughs, freezes on merit salary increases and less than 50 layoffs beginning next month when the new fiscal year begins.

State employees were informed of the cost-savings measures through a letter and accompanying video distributed by the governor’s office. Furloughs will be one day a month for all state employees beginning in July. No changes are expected to the health insurance or retirement benefits.

Nevada is currently estimating a $1.3 billion shortfall in fiscal year 2021; $900 million of that is within the General Fund, with the remainder falling under the Distributive School Account that funds K-12 education.

In a press release announcing the cuts, the governor’s office stated that “without significant federal funding to assist with the state’s revenue shortfall, Nevada will not be able to avoid severe reductions in general fund support for agencies and services that represent the majority of the general fund expenditures, including health and human services, K-12, higher education and public safety.”

The release goes on to state the governor’s finance office is working with legislative leadership to “review and finalize budgetary proposals to address the Fiscal Year 2021 shortfall and coordinate timing for an upcoming special session to finalize the proposals before July 1.”

A union that is representing thousands of state workers in collective bargaining negotiations complained state employees have been left out of the decision-making process.

“When our state falls on hard times, state employees are always the first to be asked to make sacrifices,” said AFSCME Local 4041 President Harry Schiffman in a statement. “State employees have been completely shut out of any discussion regarding our working conditions and we demand a say before any decisions about our work and lives are made.”

(This story was updated to add comments from AFSCME.)

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.