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Furlough Days Canceled For Michigan Workers

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LANSING (AP) - An estimated 37,000 state of Michigan workers represented by unions won’t have to take unpaid furlough days this fiscal year because of a budget surplus, state officials said Wednesday.

The unionized workers had been expected to take four furlough days each in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The furlough days were announced last fall because unions did not reach an agreement on concessions with Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

But state officials have since determined they have a $457 million budget surplus from the last fiscal year that wasn’t previously expected.

“No employees have taken a furlough day yet this year, and now none will be required to,” Kurt Weiss, a spokesman for the state budget office, told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

Some labor unions representing state employees had anticipated the furlough days might not materialize because of state government’s stabilizing budget situation. A gradually improving economy has helped the state’s budget, but analysts expect revenue growth will be restrained over the next year or so in part because of changes to Michigan tax laws.

Snyder is scheduled to detail his next state budget plan Thursday at the Capitol.

Union officials said avoiding furlough days is good news for both Michigan citizens depending on services and state employees.

“When you have a temporary layoff day or a furlough day, it means that people aren’t getting their needs met and work piles up,” said Ray Holman, legislative liaison for United Auto Workers Local 6000, which represents about 17,000 state employees. “A lot of times, that stuff backfires and they don’t end up saving as much money as people think.”

The state had expected to save roughly $9.5 million through the furlough days.

Michigan has used state employee furlough days to help deal with past budget problems. Most Michigan state government workers were required to take six furlough days in the summer of 2009, a move that was expected to save more than $20 million.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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