As a former House Finance Committee chairman and House speaker, Kiss said he assumed it would take an extended period of time before a freeze of federal funding would begin to affect state government functions.
"I thought it would be several months. In reality, it appears to be much shorter, within a month," he said.
Since current state law does not permit state employee furloughs, employees paid with federal funds would have had to be terminated, then rehired once the federal government shutdown ended, Kiss said. That would raise issues about whether those employees would have to forfeit seniority, pension and health-care benefits, and pay grade.
"They, as much as anyone, have an interest in assuring there is some certainty here," Kiss said of a furlough law.
The 2009 bill spelled out that furloughed employees would retain all benefits otherwise entitled to them. It also would have required the state to pay both the employer and employee contribution for health insurance and pensions for furloughed employees.
Kiss said the Legislature should consider a 2014 interim study of employee furlough legislation, and may need to act sooner, in the event the Congressional budget impasse leads to another shutdown in January.
"I think we need to assume there will be a crisis in January," McCabe added.
With the state receiving about $4.5 billion of federal funding each year, Kiss said state revenues could not make up for lost federal funding for long.
Just making up the federal contribution for Medicaid, currently more than $185 million a month, would exhaust the state's $900 million emergency Rainy Day funds in a short period of time, he said.
"It's taken half a generation to build up," he said of the Rainy Day funds. "As was mentioned in the paper the other day, it would disappear in several months."Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.