ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris N. Glendening is giving state employees the day off on Christmas Eve to thank them for their hard work since the tragedies of Sept. 11.
All state offices will be closed with the exception of agencies with 24- hour operations, such as state hospitals, Baltimore/Washington International Airport and correctional facilities, Glendening announced Wednesday.
“This is our chance to say thank you and to give a little back to the public servants who have given so much to us,” Glendening said. State employees, he said, have been “working extra-hours and performing above and beyond the call of duty” in keeping state services running after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The closure will effect 60,000 state employees and will have a price tag of about $2.5 million dollars, said Raquel Guillory, Glendening’s spokeswoman.
State employee unions were delighted with the gift.
“This is a welcome break for hard-working state employees in lieu of Sept. 11. This is another recognition of public employees that serve the residents in Maryland and other states as well,” said Daniel Kaufman, spokesman for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The price tag on Glendening’s gift left a few legislators wishing the governor took his Christmas cues from Scrooge rather than Santa Claus.
“It’s appropriate to at least have a half day,” said Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, minority whip. “Taking employees out of production is going to have an economic impact and more than likely a negative one.”
Glendening recently announced $205 million in cost-saving measures over the next two years, including a hiring freeze, to shore up the state budget in the wake of the economic downturn since the terrorist attacks.
Yet, the closure is also convenient. With Christmas falling on a Tuesday and employees having that day off, it would have been awkward to have employees come in Monday after a weekend, said a state spokeswoman.
This is not the first time Glendening played Santa. In 1997 when Christmas fell on a Thursday, he gave employees the following Friday off.
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