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Nearly 10,000 KU employees — almost half students — spend tense two days

February 17, 2009, 12:14 p.m. Updated February 17, 2009, 5:24 p.m.

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If the state can't pay its workers on Friday, will you show up to work?

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Tensions were running high among Kansas University workers, other state employees and taxpayers in Lawrence Tuesday, as state leaders grappled with a budget impasse that could leave state workers without paychecks and Kansas residents without state income tax refunds.

"I can tell you my bank account’s really low right now, so I'd like to get paid on Friday," said Nathan Mack, a student worker at KU.

Late Tuesday, state Republican leaders and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced separate actions that should lead to paychecks being issued and income tax refunds going out.

Mack, a senior from Lawrence, is among 4,461 KU students who won't get paid if state leaders don't get their acts together.

Kansas University workers in Lawrence would be without $9 million in their pocketbooks at the end of the week if they're not paid, university officials said Tuesday.

The state doesn't have enough money in its main bank account to pay 55,000 employees who are scheduled to receive a paycheck on Friday.

Paychecks for all state employees are in jeopardy, as Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius are at a budget impasse.

Sebelius proposed Monday that the state shift $225 million into its main bank account from accounts around state government.

But Republican leaders, who control majorities in both legislative chambers, balked. They question whether the borrowing is legal as long as the state has a projected deficit in its current budget.

"Power struggle, that's what I think it is," said Phil Crump, KU maintenance worker.

The university dishes out the largest number of paychecks of any unit paid by the state government, the state department of administration said, with 9,072 employees.

Some workers said not getting a paycheck at the end of the week would result in harsh consequences.

"I guess I can't come to work, I have no money to pay for gas," said Daniel Mayeux, KU maintenance worker. "I might get kicked out of my apartment, you never know."

The university said about 75 percent of its workers are full-time. State workers are paid every two weeks.

In his 23 years as a state employee, KU landscape supervisor Allen Mitchell said he's never been without a paycheck.

"They've always come through every time, so hopefully they'll come through this time, so then we can all eat," he said. "It's up to the politics up there in Topeka; we'll just have to run with them."

State income tax refunds have also been suspended, officials said. Word spread through the community Tuesday, leaving some unhappy.

"I'd rather not go without it, because that's a nice little chunk of money I'd like to have," said Brandon Caylor, employee of Juice Stop, 812 Mass.

As of Monday, the state had $10 million in its main account and faced $56 million worth of payroll expenses, Medicaid payments and income tax refunds.

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Comments

bd 5 years, 10 months ago

So , if we don't get paid, I can show my KU ID and not have to pay sales tax???????

Sigmund 5 years, 10 months ago

toe (Anonymous) says… "Remember, even if you do not get a paycheck, the sales and property taxes will still be due."

The one half percent increase in sales taxes for the empTy do not take effect till April, by that time this entire mess will be all cleared up and Gov. Kathy will be safely in DC, assuming she has paid her own income taxes.

kerplunkr 5 years, 10 months ago

This is ridiculous. I can't believe our state government can't balance a checkbook. I was expecting to receive a hefty income tax refund from the state, considering I paid a lot of money for anticipated income last year. Apparently I'll be waiting awhile!

KSChick1 5 years, 10 months ago

"I would hope that state employees will come to work whether or not they get a paycheck,” Sebelius said.

Keep wanting babe. I don't get paid, I'm not coming to work. I work for the paycheck!!!

Chris Ogle 5 years, 10 months ago

I responded to the poll by saying Private sector. That is not really true. I work at least one day a week for the state so I can pay various taxes.

Trobs 5 years, 10 months ago

Nebraska only spends as much as they make.

They have no budget issues with the ongoing recession.

Crazy ideas

FormerCentralKansan 5 years, 10 months ago

I owe the State of KS about $500 for the 2008 year. I'm not paying it until they pay their own employees.

msskansas2u 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you FormerCentralKansan.... We get penalized for not having our taxes filed by a certain date, yet they can choose not to refund what we worked hard for and have no penalties??? Not to mention all the employees, it would be great to see all 55,000 employees storm the capital, maybe that would get the point across.

Erin Pfannenstiel 5 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Alia Ahmed 5 years, 10 months ago

Pogo,

What are you taking about? "KU family" secret quotient?

Omegatron 5 years, 10 months ago

I think every state employee need to remember all this and when they come up for reelection make sure they get booted.

Pay back pure and simple.

KSChick1 5 years, 10 months ago

Pogo (Anonymous) says…

“Members” of the “ku family” get so many discounts and breaks here and there…..let them be the last to get paid, should there be any delay.

I beg to differ with you Pogo. I have worked here for years and get no discounts or breaks. Where are they? And what are they? Enlighten me so I know where to save money when I don't get paid Friday.

sunflour 5 years, 10 months ago

I just had a nasty thought -- what happens to my health insurance, etc, if I don't get paid? Federal taxes?

backyardwino 5 years, 10 months ago

I will be at work check or no check even though the piggy bank will be a gaunt version of it's usual slim self. I mean what else am I going to do? Who will crank the motor if I am not there. I'm not going to sit around and expense the bottle. . . it might be longer before I can get another. Thankfully my mortgage is not astronomical since my significant other and I decided to not overstreach our budget back when the sub-prime sharks were feeding, but I'm worried for those who have an even tighter budget and children to feed. I've seen some some colorful remarks here, but at the end of the day, I hope the politicians realize who will really be affected and act with some immediacy.

KSChick1 5 years, 10 months ago

oh yeah, and Pogo? I'm just like every other working person in this town. I just happen to work at KU. I deserve to get paid and you deserve surgery to get that stick out of your bum. Reading between the lines, I would guess you either couldn't get hired at KU or got fired from KU. Otherwise, you wouldn't begrudge us our paychecks. I still need to pay bills, buy groceries and gas, and live. No matter where I work. Moron.

kitnkat 5 years, 10 months ago

Pogo,

You're wrong. I didn't know anyone at KU when I got my job. And the students I hire don't know anyone I know either. They get hired based on if they have the ability to do the job to my satisfaction. I have high standards. If you weren't hired here there's probably a VERY good reason.

lovenhaight 5 years, 10 months ago

I was a KU work-study employee and didn't have any inside help getting my job. Anyone who is that bent on conspiracy theory regarding hiring at KU has obviously got their own issues to deal with.

think_about_it 5 years, 10 months ago

KS Chick- get back to work, your boss is watching!!

kerplunkr 5 years, 10 months ago

logrithmic (Anonymous) says…

"Some $250 to 500 million on a biological weapons facility in Manhattan?"

Last time I checked it was a National Bio and Agro Defense facility. Although I'm sure some money will come from the state of KS, a majority of it will be funded by the federal government.

Erin Pfannenstiel 5 years, 10 months ago

Pogo:

I've had a job with KU ever since I first applied as a student employee in 1999 (two weeks into my Freshman year). I didn't know anyone then. I got the job on my own credentials.

I stuck around b/c I'm good at what I do and have always gone above and beyond what is asked of me. I'm an asset to this university and, thankfully, they know it.

I'm sorry you didn't get the job (I'm assuming that's why you're bitter) but that doesn't mean that the work I've already done (as in we get paid every two weeks for the job we did 2-4 weeks PRIOR to that) doesn't deserve the payment owed to me.

katjok 5 years, 10 months ago

Not going to work wouldn't do any good, it's not like it's our supervisor's fault.

Onasis 5 years, 10 months ago

Logrithmic The new football facility came from donors and has nothing to do with the State's budget. But I do understand where you are coming from on the state's overspending and so many things seem unnecessary.

Pogo It took me applying a couple times before being hired at KU, and no I didn't know anyone either. And if you want to take a look around my office, you will see that we definitely do not all fit into one category. Also, it is the students who get discounts not the employees. Or if they do, I too would like to know where so I can take advantage of them.

I will be at work on Friday and Monday and all the other days as long as I have the money for gas and daycare. In this time of cuts and layoffs I can't afford for that to be held against me, and won't let the bullies on Capital hill affect my own responsible decisions.

situveux1 5 years, 10 months ago

Why is Sebelius waiting until THE WEEK OF to balance the checkbook to pay state employees?

Mike Blur 5 years, 10 months ago

I wonder if the KU employees who say they'll walk if they don't get paid actually have the stones to follow through. Personally, I'm betting that all will show up and clock in, just like the good little sheeple they are. They may be disgruntled just a bit, but when they realize they have a cushy gig (how many of us get paid to surf the internet!??) they can ill afford to toss it aside.

ohjayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

I, too, worked at a work study job and didn't know anyone before getting it. A friend of mine also did work study and had no "inside" connections to get his job, either. So, there's two more "outsiders" that have worked at KU.

lily 5 years, 10 months ago

I think pogo youare confusing the athletic dept with the state/KU employees. You may know somebody and that's how you get hired at athletics but no one I know got hired on as a custodian, bookkeeper or other positon at KU because of who they know.

And for those that don't like the new athletic facilities, I don't know many people that are happy with that in these economic times either. But as I have heard so many times over the years, it's from private donations or other budgets. Hemenway got a hefty raise from private donations. The regular joes have to depend on the state and that money doesn't come from private donations.

countrygirl 5 years, 10 months ago

KU employees--let them know you aren't happy about your paychecks being used as a pawn.

http://www.ksdp.org/RepublicanBlackmail

justthefacts 5 years, 10 months ago

Not that I agree or disagree (I think BOTH sides are playing political "chicken" using state employees as their battering rams), but here is the GOP response: http://kansastrunkline.blogspot.com. and http://www.ksgop.org/news.asp?artid=19

It says in part:

The idea that the Legislature is preventing state employees from being paid is the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater. The Governor is attempting to draw attention away from the fact that she has multiple options to fix this problem. Her options do not include illegally issuing certificates of indebtedness when revenues, in this climate, cannot begin to repay the debt. She can easily sign House Substitute for SB 23 or fix the problem by issuing allotments.

The Governor is attempting to mislead the public in an effort to drum up support for poor public policy. The majority of the Legislature recognizes the severity of the current economic situation and is acting in a responsible manner. How the Governor can say on Thursday that we don't have enough money and issue allotments and then turn around and on the following Monday say, we will have enough money when the numbers HAVE NOT changed is irresponsible and disingenuous. We strongly urge the Governor to use her power to make allotments and cut state spending rather than withholding tax refunds or paychecks from hard working Kansans.

The decision was made, by the Governor, to halt income tax refunds last week. Now that her back is against the wall she is using scare tactics to try to manipulate public opinion. We find it perplexing that she will halt income tax refunds due to not having enough money in the budget but will ask for additional certificates of indebtedness even though she knows the dollars for repayment will never materialize without a fundamental change in the 2009 budget. Kansas citizens deserve better.

backyardwino 5 years, 10 months ago

Mike_Blur—how dare you think my job is "cushy." I will be here either way and that's not because I'm following the herd, but rather providing support to an important institution. This situation has nothing to do with the quality of work I nor any other staff member does. I hope for your sake, you do not end up wondering if your next check arrives for work you've already performed.

justthefacts 5 years, 10 months ago

P.S. Not paying your taxes or showing up for work will cause the persons displaying that conduct to be subject to penalities (fines and termination). Two wrongs don't make a right...and it's not worth the gamble. Unless you LIKE having to fight with the IRS or find a new job......

9070811 5 years, 10 months ago

The payroll money is there, it it exists in the different fund that the gop senate will not transfer until their version of the bill is passed.

9070811 5 years, 10 months ago

....also know as..politcal blackmail :D

katjok 5 years, 10 months ago

jeeze louise, Pogo, you are in one lousy mood about KU workers!

Onasis 5 years, 10 months ago

It is pretty pointless to argue over who does and doesn't get hired at KU. I was just saying I had no inside help, and as far as fitting into a mold... you can't say that about my office anyways. The things you mentioned in your post that KU employees get discounts to are KU events... can I be pissed that I don't get discounts to Walmart when I don't work there? We don't even get free flu shots, but if you need AIDS testing for free, go donate blood, they do it for free then. But again, it's pointless to argue over such trivial things. Agree to disagree!

Buggie7 5 years, 10 months ago

Pogo there are some discounts as an employee you can get however making enough money at KU to pay for tickets to lied and some of the other things dont really even out if you use them. The facilities Op (groundskeepers etc) dont make enough money I do agree with you there. On top of that Alot of them work on west 15th street where no students are and they have parking just for those employees and KU still makes them pay for a sticker for their vehicles to park in that lot. That does not make sense to me. If you dont have the sticker you get a ticket. These folks are working hard everyday alot of them out in any weather element and they do not park on what is considered main campus. So now they are having to pay for their parking sticker to go to work and not getting paid WHAT A CROCK! Then to let them know this the day before they are to get paid. Alot of us are pay period to pay period. A lil notice would have been nice. My hubby had no friends or relatives working for KU when he got hired so Im not sure where your other comment is based from.

Buggie7 5 years, 10 months ago

Is KState going through the same thing?

Sigmund 5 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like pogo has it about right. We have met the enemy and he (or she) is us.

shutnmdown 5 years, 10 months ago

Sad to say but very true about knowing "someone." I would of never gotten my foot in the door until my sister got the opportunity. They don't hire felons but they hired this one. But I did a damn good job too. So say what you will, or forever hold your peace.

boltzmann 5 years, 10 months ago

ksfbcoach (Anonymous) says… "A Republican President with a Democrat controlled Congress and everyone blames the economy on the President. A Democrat Governor and a Republican controlled state legislature, but now it is the Republican legislatures fault we don't have a balanced budget. Typical liberal bullcrap - always blame someone else, never your fault."

First of all, the correct adjective form of "Democrat" is "Democratic", as in "Democratic governor". Willful disregard of the English language is an ignorant ploy.

Second, let's see...Over the past 8 years we have had 6 years where both the president and Congress were Republican and two years where the president was Republican and the Congress was Democratic. In order, for you to claim that the Democrats are primarily at fault for the current economy, you need to point to specific policies that were enacted by the Democratic Congress in the last two years that caused the problem we are in. Otherwise, by shear number of years in control, the Republicans should get most of the blame. If you can't do that, then you are just spouting your own version of "bullcrap".

Centerville 5 years, 10 months ago

The governor tried to use all the state employees as pawns and it backfired. She's the one who made up the paycheck threat and the local press didn't ask question one. She has become a national joke. Perfect for the 0 team.

tir 5 years, 10 months ago

I think both the governor and the Republican leaders were wrong to use state workers and other Kansas citizens as pawns in their political games. They should all be ashamed. It may have just been just partisan sparring to them, but to all of those who feared they wouldn't get paychecks or receive the tax refunds that they were rightfully due, it was a very serious matter. I think Kansans deserve better treatment at the hands of the folks in Topeka. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the budget wars. Kansans should let their elected representatives know that we don't take very kindly to being jerked around.

WHY 5 years, 10 months ago

If you owe money, pay up. Then the state employees can get paid. Buy a few more packs of cigarettes and a state lotto ticket and Kansas will be back in business tomorrow.

Erin Pfannenstiel 5 years, 10 months ago

Pogo:

I suppose you can continue to think you have us all figured out... how we're all the same... how we are all "lambs being led to slaughter," but I know my situation and you do not. You come across sounding bitter at best, insane at the worst.

(For the record, I posted every update today during either breaks or lunch.)

For you to have the audacity to claim that simply because I'm employed by KU I must be lazy, compliant, ignorant, and (HA!) wealthy enough to go without a paycheck makes you sound really sad. I'm sad for you. I might be out a paycheck on Friday, but it's you for whom I feel sorry.

I'm sure you'll have something delightfully insightful to say regarding all of this, but I no longer concern myself with any of it. Have fun! Don't drown in your bitter tears.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

HR 676 National Health Insurance could reduce the states medical insurance payments by 30%-50 %.

Petition

Dear Representative, I urge you to co-sponsor H.R. 676, the "Medicare For All" Bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers.

Our health care system is broken. We have nearly 50 million citizens with no health coverage, and at least 18,000 of them die unnecessarily each year as a result. Millions more have inadequate insurance coverage.

Every other industrialized country in the world makes sure its population has access to basic healthcare. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to health care as a human right.

28 industrialized nations have single payer universal health care systems like the type proposed in this bill - privately delivered health care, publicly financed - and none spend as much per capita on health care as the United States. The United States ranks near the bottom among industrial countries in indicators from life expectancy (20th) to infant mortality (23rd).

Under H.R. 676, a family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs. No deductibles, no co-pays, no worrying about catastrophic coverage.

The services covered include primary care, inpatient, outpatient and emergency hospital care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, hearing, dental and vision care, chiropratic treatment, mental health services, and long-term care.

Physicians for a National Health Program estimates the nation could save over $286 billion dollars a year in total health care costs. That's enough to cover all the uninsured and provide full prescription drug coverage for everyone in the United States.

No other issue so directly impacts Americans. Please sign on a co-sponsor to this vital issue. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

http://www.democrats.com/single-payer-petition

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