Monday, March 27, 2023

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Continuing resolution causes 18 layoffs, more expected


As of Monday there has been 18 layoffs of Navajo Nation employees and more are expected.

Another four are expected to lose their jobs this week. At least 18 more workers will be laid off in the coming weeks.

In November a total of 50 Navajo Nation employees are set for layoffs in seven divisions.

The Navajo Nation Council’s approval of an emergency continuing resolution and tabling the budget was supposed to prevent layoffs of employees, but it only made things worse.

“They passed the CR as an emergency bill … with no debate,” said President Jonathan Nez. “No one anticipated that to happen. We are encouraging Council now to pass the budget.”

Concerned over layoffs in the fiscal year 2021 budget, Council tabled the bill and instead adopted the continuing resolution, authorizing the Navajo Nation divisions, departments and chapters to receive a quarter for the FY 2020 budget from Oct 1 to Dec 30.

And because of this funds are not available for the positions that were not included in the FY 2020 budget but were subsequently added throughout 2020, the Department of Personnel Management is providing notice that these positions ended on Sept 30.

“We did inform our division directors we are not in support of layoffs,” said Perphelia Fowler, executive director of the Division of Human Resources. “However, if the continued resolution is to be approved it will affect more employees.

Over the weekend Nez said his staff had meetings to try to prevent this from happening. Nez signed the continuing resolution into law because time had run out before the fiscal year ended on Sept. 30. He had requested Council to approve the budget.

During the Oct. 2 special session, Council deleted the adoption of the FY 2021 budget and replaced it with an emergency bill sponsored by Budget and Finance Vice Chairman Ray Smith, which adopted the continuing resolution instead, allocating all programs a quarter of 2020 funding for the remainder of the calendar year.

“In here is an option to continue as is,” said Smith during the Council session. “There will be no layoffs… Using a quarter of the budget at 100 percent until the budget has been adopted by the Navajo Nation Council.”

The delayed action of the Council shortened the timeframe for Nez to consider the continuing resolution without causing a government shutdown and disruption to direct services for the Navajo people, according to Nez.

“A week ago, by letter, we urged the Council to complete the fiscal year 2021 budget as soon as possible so we could continue to provide services to the Nation,” stated Nez. “Now we are out of time. At this point, we cannot make a move without causing larger, more complex problems for the Nation.”

About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reported on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent.


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