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Union backs state proposal

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By David Giuliani

The head of a local union representing state employees is happy with Gov. Bill Richardson’s plan to deal with a more than $400 million budget deficit.

The governor is proposing 3 percent across-the-board cuts, excluding schools.

Patrick Gutierrez, president of Local 1380 of the American Federal of State, Municipal and County Employees, said his union appreciates that Richardson isn’t calling for layoffs or furloughs.

Gutierrez, whose local represents 654 state employees in San Miguel County, said workers didn’t get a raise this year because of the economy.

He said the state hospital, where he works, appears to be filling front-line medical positions, rather than leaving them vacant.

Andrew Padilla, president of AFSCME Council 18, said the statewide union realizes that these are tough times.

“The size of state classified employment has dropped nearly 10 percent this decade, meaning that front-line services are already incredibly lean,” he said in a statement.

Richardson has clashed with legislators in talks over whether to cut spending for public schools. The governor has opposed any such reductions, but some lawmakers are calling for some reductions to education because they expect the budget to grow to more than $500 million.

The governor is planning to call for a special legislative session sometime next month.