Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is warning of about 700 state employee layoffs in the coming weeks.
Rendell has remained vague about the layoffs. He won’t say which state departments will be hardest-hit, but promises the eliminated jobs will come from throughout state government.
"We’re still identifying the layoffs that come from the budget we passed. And as I said there, the target is about 700. And we’re trying to work with the cabinet secretaries. Bumping rights, etc. we’re trying to get that all under control, and we’ll be announcing that shortly."
The lack of details frustrates Kathy Jellison, who heads the Pennsylvania branch of the Service Employees International Union.
"We don’t know what departments are going to get hit yet. We’re gone through the budget line by line, so it’s hard to say exactly where the cuts are going to hit. We’re kind of in wait and see mode. But again, it’s really frustrating. Because again we’re the pawns. You know, to balance the budget it’s always the state employees that get to be the pawns in the whole process."
Rendell says stalled federal medical funding impacts the layoffs.
If Congress denies the 850 million dollars of extended aid Pennsylvania has banked on, that money will need to come out of the budget, and thousands of additional layoffs will be needed. The governor says he’d rather make all the cuts at once, so he’s putting off the announcement and hoping for a definitive answer on the FMAP money.