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NYS payroll debate continues

Emily Burkhard
Updated: April 01, 2020 12:02 AM
Created: March 31, 2020 11:41 PM

ALBANY - Paycheck uncertainty for state workers as conflicting directives from state budget officials and the comptroller's office have thousands trying to figure out if their checks are coming on Wednesday.

Lawmakers met remotely on Tuesday night, the eve of the budget deadline. NewsChannel 13 has learned the Assembly has passed one budget bill. It’s still unclear if that bill included emergency appropriations to cover this payroll issue.

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The Office of the New York State Comptroller (OSC) said 120,000 administrative workers in state agencies and the state Legislature are affected by the anticipated delay.

Of those employees, 85,000 are considered “lagged employees,” meaning their April 1 check is for work completed March 4 to the 18.

There are also 2,000 “non-lagged” employees involved. Their April 1 paychecks will be for work completed March 19 to April 1.

The problem is OSC said they need the appropriations authority to pay employees for April 1, as it’s part of a new fiscal year and a new budget hasn’t been passed and there’s no extender in place.

However, the Department of Budget (DOB) said the comptroller's office already has the power it needs to pay employees in full.

A DOB spokesperson said lagged employees should be paid in full, as the entire pay period is in the current fiscal year and non-lag employees should be paid for 13 of the 14 days in the pay period, excluding April 1.

DOB said the pay schedule was published last year and this is something OSC should've been preparing for.

A spokesperson for OSC said the state has never once issued partial payment to employees.  OSC also issued notices warning state officials of this problem back in December and at the beginning of March. The comptroller's office even drafted an emergency appropriations bill for state lawmakers to pass to avoid this issue, but that didn't happen.

The 120,000 paper paychecks and direct deposit files for Wednesday were prepared a week ago and are ready to go in the proper amounts, including payment for work on April 1.

In order to issue those checks a budget or extender would need to be passed, but after that OSC said the process would be very speedy.

Comparatively, OSC said to issue partial paychecks as DOB is suggesting, they would have to look at each individual agency to see what appropriation authority they have, determine who is lagged and who isn't, deduct pay based on those findings and then re-issue all 120,000 checks/direct deposit files, regardless of whether or not the employees are lagged.

OSC said the first time they even heard about the partial pay suggestion was on Tuesday. Because it’s never been done before a spokesperson for OSC couldn’t estimate how long it would take to accomplish that, but did say would certainly be slower than passing an extender as they originally suggested.

OSC also said it's unclear how or if non-lagged employees would get their pay from April 1 if the partial pay route is taken.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.


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