Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. That’s what some 35,000 employees of the State of Kansas—me included—are doing as we find out officially whether we go on an unpaid furlough starting Monday.
The long and short of it can be summed up in this article from U.S. News & World Report:
Splintered into conservative and far-right factions, the Kansas GOP is openly at war with itself over an $800 million, two-year budget deficit gnawed open by the tax cuts nobody wants to roll back. If they can’t fill the hole by week’s end – against long odds – furloughs of government employees will follow.
I’ve already been told I’m non-essential. Of course, so are those who work for KDOT, so let’s hope no severe emergencies come up until the state gets its *%#$ together.
In the meantime, the legislature has spent 106 days and $688,000 taxpayer dollars—an extra $4,170 for each politician—to debate bills about deer antlers and scrap metal and ultimately shrug their shoulders and agree to force all of us into not getting paid for an undisclosed amount of time. So how do I feel about all of this?
I’m pissed off.
I took a job at the University of Kansas for so many wonderful reasons—namely because the university stands for something. Lawrence and the Jayhawks stood for freedom and ideals and a future and I saw so much potential that I was OK with taking a substantial pay cut to convince students to come to KU. Ask any number of my friends and co-workers and they’ll pretty much tell you the same.
But now, here we all are, surviving on already reduced incomes, being told we aren’t essential and it’s the fault of the people that I certainly didn’t elect to put into power in the state.
So what will come out of it? I can say with complete certainty that I won’t be putting money BACK into Kansas, because I won’t be able to afford it. I’ll have to cut costs—things like food and clothing and the tiny bit of entertainment that’s in my life, all of which I put directly into my town. It’s likely this will be the case all throughout Kansas. What about the families who rely on one income?
Way to go, Kansas legislators. You screwed the entire state.
And now the final wait begins… If a budget isn’t passed by tomorrow night, we’re furloughed. Looks like I’ll be spending my days at the gym, Hulking out to keep my anger at bay.
At least one of our student employees is helping me laugh about it with this brilliant website he threw up in the wake of this news. Thanks, Caleb for helping me put things into perspective. (Sadly, he’ll be on furlough too.)