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Four−day work week could help New York economy: Gianaris

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D−Astoria) has proposed cutting the work week by one day for state workers in order to save the state millions of dollars per year amid the current economic downturn.

The assemblyman said he sent a letter last week to Gov. David Paterson, suggesting a four−day week for nonessential state employees. Gianaris said the proposal could potentially save the state up to $30 million per year during a time when the state’s economy is struggling.

“With a historic budget deficit looming, we must identify innovative ways to make our state more efficient,” Gianaris said. “Before deciding which programs to cut and which taxes to levy, we should first exhaust all efforts to do more with less.”

Under the assemblyman’s proposal, all state agencies providing nonessential services would change their work hours from the current 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.

Gianaris said he believed 90 percent of the state’s agencies could likely adequately operate in a four−day week, especially agencies that primarily involve completing paperwork.

“I think the overwhelming majority of state government could be included in a four−day work week proposal without the public feeling the difference,” he said.

He said a number of agencies, including the Division of Housing and Community Renewal or the Department of Tax and Finance, could likely complete their work under his proposal. But he said any agencies handling healthcare, hospitals, education or safety should stick to their current schedules.

The assemblyman said energy, building maintenance and transportation costs would be greatly reduced under his proposal.

He said he would like to see his proposal begin as a pilot program to allow the state to determine which agencies were essential and which could have shorter work weeks.

The state has an estimated 237,000 full−time employees, the New York Times reported.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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