Labor Department Investigating Pennsylvania

07.27.09 | FL News Team

(Harrisburg, PA) -- The budget battle has put state lawmakers under another microscope. The United States Department of Labor is conducting an investigation to determine whether Pennsylvania is violating workers legal rights by withholding pay.

The state has promised to give all employees back pay when a budget is finally enacted, but that compromise could be weeks in the making. The Labor Department received more than 15-hundred phone calls from state workers in recent weeks, prompting the investigation.

Governor Rendell's office has also been flooded with phone calls, e-mails and personal visits to a far greater degree this year in response to talk of cuts in the state's approximately $28 billion budget. The breadth of potential cutbacks is extremely large in this recession-ravaged budget year. Officials say it will mean layoffs, belt-tightening and longer waiting lists at everything from veterans' homes to public television stations.

The last paychecks for the foreseeable future for tens of thousands of state government employees were cut Friday, and they weren't even full paychecks. Some 44,000 employees received a 20 percent paycheck. A Treasury spokeswoman says some employees may have received nothing at all, depending on the size of their benefits deduction.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 16 in a court case dealing with whether state employees must be paid on time even when no budget is in place.