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State Budget Leaders Explain Drop in Expected Furloughs

The state announced fewer than expected furloughed positions Monday.
LITTLE ROCK,AR--The latest furlough report released Monday came as a surprise to many after the governor and other leaders estimated over 1200 people would be furloughed two weeks into the partial government shutdown.

State leaders say roughly 600 people are fully furloughed right now, which means they are not working and not getting paid. The only thing keeping that list down is the that state is not including more than 700 people working part time or without pay for now.

On day 14 of the government shutdown state budget administrator Brandon Sharp started crunching numbers at 5 :45 AM, calculating the number of state employees on furlough.

"Quite a ride the last couple of weeks," he says, describing the impact of the shutdown.

Within the last two weeks activity at the Workforce Development Center has jumped 20 percent.

Workforce Development Division Chief Jo Keegan says "Federal employees, they come in and they have never been laid off before. they don't know the first step."

To avoid adding to the pile of furloughed Arkansans, Keegan says Workforce Development moved workers from federally funded programs to the unemployment insurance office.

Keegan says they made the changes to, "To help with the increased loads of people coming in the door and give them somewhere to work so they won't lose their income."

Sharp says it's that type of shuffling that's stabilized the number of furloughed employees. The Department of Human Services is using leftover federal funds from the previous fiscal year to keep roughly 300 people on board.

But Sharp warns, this is a temporary solution.

"Within the next couple of weeks there will be issues with agencies as they run out of contingency funds. The Department of Health is one of them," says Sharp.

Roughly 400 people saved from the list work at the Disabilities Determination administration where they're still working for deferred compensation.

"This is a very difficult situation just knowing the impact this is having on Arkansas families and not being able to do anything about it," Sharp says.

For now, all he and his analysts can do is work and wait, hoping the lawmakers reach an agreement sooner than later.

Sharp says, "We will be sorting through this mess for a while no matter when they conclude the shutdown."





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