Shrewd, Bill. Nobody's going to see through this charade.
Gov. Bill Richardson is urging Congress and the White House to work out funding differences that prompted Los Alamos National Laboratory to make plans to lay off up to 750 employees.
Richardson said he is directing Fred Mondragon, secretary of the Economic Development Department, and Betty Sparrow Doris, secretary of the Workforce Solutions Department, to meet with LANL officials directly to assure that the state retains anyone who is laid off.
LANL officials outlined a voluntary separation package of up to 39 weeks of benefits for lab employees on Monday. The lab hopes to reduce the workforce by 500 to 750 employees through the plan.
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., issued a statement that he is uncertain about the outcome of the FY2008 budget for the national laboratories. Domenici is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee that crafts the bill to fund the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the nuclear weapons complex that includes LANL and Sandia National Laboratories. These agencies are funded under a continuing resolution that expires Dec. 14.
The Democratic leadership in Congress has directed the House and Senate appropriators to attempt to reach conference agreements on bills like the energy and water bill for inclusion in an omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2008 fiscal year. The leadership also reduced overall subcommittee funding allocations by 50 percent, or $11 billion, according to Domenici's office .
Sen. Jeff Bingaman issued a statement expressing disappointment over the LANL job cuts. He said the Senate leadership has sought to enact spending bills with greater emphasis on domestic spending, but after a veto on one bill by President Bush and a threatened veto on others, Congressional leaders agreed to reduce proposed domestic spending by $11 billion. This could have a negative impact on the budgets of the national labs, he said.