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Pennsylvania

Unpaid state workers hit snag with labor complaint

| Friday, July 31, 2009

About 30 unpaid state employees who tried to file a complaint with the Department of Labor were stopped at the lobby of the Federal Building on Liberty Avenue today.

Building guards sent them back outside, until a Labor Department representative agreed to allow them to come to the office two at a time, to file complaints.

The state budget impasse is in its 31st day today, the longest impasse since 1991.

About 77,000 state workers have received partial pay, and 33,000 of them today were the first to receive no paychecks.

Sandra Downer, who has worked for the Department of Public Welfare for two years, said some state employees are taking out credit union loans to get by.

"We don't know how long our loans are going to last. They can turn us off at any time," said Downer, who described the budget impasse as "a nightmare."

Senate Republican leaders and Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell have been sharply divided over taxes and spending as they try to close a $3.2 billion deficit. Negotiators remain far apart.

Rendell has pushed for a 16 percent hike in the state income tax and increased spending, including $400 million more for basic education. But House Democrats have been unable to garner enough support to bring up a tax bill. Republicans insist the state should not spend more than it takes in.

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