By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON – Another snow day, another political storm.
Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency across Wisconsin for Thursday and ordered the closing of state offices in 22 counties, including Dane County, home of state government.
In doing so, however, the Department of Administration reiterated a controversial state policy that doesn’t give a “snow day” to state employees whose offices are closed.
Parts of Wisconsin were expected to get a foot of snow, perhaps more, through the end of Thursday, with winds gusting up to 40 mph in some areas.
The Wisconsin State Patrol and the National Weather Service urged citizens to avoid traveling.
DOA spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said state workers can decide for themselves whether it’s safe to come into work.
“If they’re not able to come, then (they) use available leave time, like vacation time or leave time,” Marquis said. “You cannot use sick time, and that’s what the policy has been for a number of years.”
DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch explained in an emailed statement that, ““We are keeping state buildings open to employees to ensure that essential services are maintained for our facilities that operate 24×7, as well as those employees who are able to safely travel to their offices.”
That was the case in February 2011, too, when a strong snow storm swept across Wisconsin.
And, like two years ago, Wisconsinites appear split on whether the state’s policy is fair.
Wisconsin Reporter posed the question on its Facebook page early Thursday and quickly racked up more than a dozen responses.
Among them (printed as submitted):
“No work, no pay. WHats the discussion again?” – Michael Zantow
“I’ll take half a vacation day, I’m working from home. I think the rule is fair, but quite a few of my colleagues are jammed up about it.” – Teddy Newcomb
“Day off” – Patty Jensen
“Hard to feel sorry for anyone who has a job, has sick pay and vacation pay accruing to use in these circumstances when so many people have none in this bad economy ……. even more difficult to feel sorry for these people who are employed by us – the taxpayers.” – Karen Olson Meyer
@Karen ….. I have to laugh at your comment … employed by us the taxpayers …. well guess what … we the state employees are taxpayers too … we pay too!” – Lori Hapner Schulte
“Vacation day is fair if they were capable of getting to work. If the travel is too treacherous that is a tough call. For federal employees, if the office closes they get a paid day off at taxpayer expense. That makes it a bit unfair to the state employees. I say vacation day for both, and save the taxpayer on both counts.” – Frank C. Latham
Contact Kirsten Adshead at [email protected]