About half of Pennsylvania’s state employees will be paid Friday and those remaining will be paid Monday, marking the end of a weeks-long pay freeze. The workers will receive checks because of special legislation passed by Governor Ed Rendell on Wednesday. The legislation called for the pay of the workers despite the current lack of an approved budget. About 77,000 employees were affected by the freeze. Employees exhibited relief with a hint of frustration at having to wait so long for their money.
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Investigator David Jones says the call to work on the budget came nine months ago, but there’s still nothing to show for it. “It’s typical state government, letting things come to an apex so that political grandstanding can take place at a time when people are critically in need. So I believe it’s somewhat of a political game, a lot of strategy, but it’s bad for the employee,” says Jones.
But not all state workers were upset by the pay freeze. Insurance Department employee Gil Patterson says he wasn’t affected – he benefited from a special loan. “I didn’t really care, to tell you the truth, when it came. All the loans were set up, zero percent loans for us, it was all automatic… I didn’t even have to make a phone call, just a thousand dollars deposited in my checking account every two weeks,” says Patterson.
Not everyone received that type of loan, though. As requests flooded the various credit unions offering them, the financial institutions had to freeze acceptance of applications from state workers. Those who did get the special loans in time must pay them back by 60 days after a budget is signed, or else interest will accrue.