The following speech was given on the floor of the Kansas Senate June 5, 2015, when there was a threat of furloughs for state employees during the longest session in Kansas history:
As the regular work week came to a close on Friday afternoon, thousands of state employees went home uncertain of when they will receive their next paycheck.
State employees commit their lives to serving Kansas year-round. They deserve to receive their paychecks as scheduled and the people of Kansas deserve to have service continue without interruption.
State employees have families. They all have bills to pay, food to buy, and responsibilities they cannot shirk simply because the Kansas Legislature has failed to do its job.
They, too, are taxpayers and help pay for the services state government provides and, ironically, help pay for their own salaries.
But, indicative of the how this Legislature views state employees was when Speaker Merrick said, “Government employees produce nothing. They’re a net consumer. And you got that cost forever and ever and ever because they’re on the KPERS plan, they’re on all the government insurance and everything.”
It has been often said on the floor of this Senate that state government needs to operate more like a business.
Thousands of state employees received letters on Friday notifying them that they are “nonessential.”
What private business has to determine which of its employees are “essential” or “nonessential?”
And, what does being labeled “nonessential” do to the morale of those state employees?
And, at some point these employees will be expected to return to work. And what do we expect them to do, pretend this never happened?
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan’s furlough notice to his own “nonessential” employees.
We are playing with the lives of thousands of state employees.
And for what?
We are playing the lives of thousands of state employees for the misguided and relentless defense of Sam Brownback’s failed economic experiment.