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Workers, LI residents speak out on state furlough plan

Workers and residents react

Long Island employees for the state and some residents respond to a furlough plan adopted Monday forcing workers to take one day off with no pay for each week there is no state budget in place. Furloughs would begin May 17.


WORKERS


Brunilda Batista, 47, of Coram

Batista works as a custodian for a building at Stony Brook University. Batista said the possible work furloughs would devastate her family, which includes a 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.

Her husband was laid off three months ago from his job as a school bus driver, making her the family's sole support.

"I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about bills and food for the house," she said. "I already don't make enough. I don't know what I would do."


Lynn Muscarello, 43, of Ridge

Muscarello works in information technology for the state Department of Conservation. She said as a single parent of an 18-month-old son, she worries the furloughs may mean relying on family and friends to help take care of her child.

"It's unfair that workers who make the least amount of money are being hit," she said.

Muscarello said the furlough idea was presented too quickly. "We are all kind of in shock," she said of herself and other state workers. "It [the announcement] didn't give us time to prepare ourselves financially or emotionally."

Muscarello said if the furloughs go through she will have trouble paying for her son's day care, about $1,200 a month, and her property taxes, about $6,000.

"Working for the state is supposed to be secure," she said. "But with the cuts, me and my son have to suffer."


Kalvin Thompson, 46, of Hempstead

Thompson, a library clerk at SUNY Old Westbury, has worked for the state for 23 years and said everyone should do their part during tough fiscal times.

"But I think upper management should be getting the furloughs. Start with the people in the governor's office. They have to make some cuts, but not our salaries," Thompson said.

As for working-class people, Thompson said, "They're balancing the budgets on our backs. I don't know anybody here who can afford to lose 20 percent of their salary."


RESIDENTS


Wilfredo Figueroa of Brooklyn

Currently on workers' compensation

"It just doesn't make sense. How do they [lawmakers] think these people can keep paying their bills with so much less money?"


Felicia Stankel of Glen Cove

Housewife who called the furloughs "a terrible thing."

"They need money like everybody else. If they [state lawmakers] didn't spend so much unnecessarily, they would have more money . . . They [state workers] need money like everybody else."


Niamh O'Hara of Greenpoint, Brooklyn

PhD student at Stony Brook University

"I'm not exactly sure how I feel [about the furloughs] because I understand that it's a difficult time so everyone has to take a hit. I think people should share the burden. We're a society . . . so I think it should be distributed fairly."

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