As the Senate is poised to hold a voting session next Thursday, Speaker Prieto delivered a letter Friday to Gov. Chris Christie as part of his effort to get immediate help for state workers following the state government shutdown. Yesterday, the Department of Labor’s website gave a notice to state workers who were out of work due to the shutdown directing them to file for unemployment.
The text of Prieto’s letter is below:
“It has come to my attention that your administration is directing state government employees to file for Unemployment Insurance benefits for Monday, July 3 during the state government shutdown.
“To qualify for partial Unemployment Insurance benefits during the government shutdown, an employee’s income for that week would have to fall below 72 percent of what they normally earn for that week. Based on that formula, a very limited number of employees would qualify for unemployment benefits during this shutdown.
“This is neither a fair nor practical way to compensate state government workers who were not responsible for the shutdown and were, as always, more than willing to work that day. The dedicated public servants that work on behalf of our state doing so many important jobs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Employees were kept out of work through no fault of their own. I believe it would be wrong to penalize them when they played no role in the circumstances that resulted in the shutdown. In 2006, all employees received full pay. It’s only right that you continue that precedent and pay employees this time as well.
“The money to pay state government workers for each of their workdays for all fiscal year was included in the budget you signed into law. Considering that, I ask that you use your executive authority to expend that money as it was appropriated and compensate state government workers for Monday, July 3.
“Doing so would be the quickest and most responsible way to resolve this question. I look forward to your decision and hope you will do what is fair and just. The hardworking employees of our state government deserve no less.”