Christmas Eve A Holiday In 22 States
Several governors who declared holidays on Christmas Eve cited the events of Sept. 11 as a reason. President George W. Bush also signed an executive order giving federal workers a paid holiday Dec. 24.
Declaring holidays may be no gift for state budgets. In West Virginia, the payroll cost of the holidays is estimated at $8.3 million, according to the state auditor's office.
Some governors, such as in California's Gray Davis, Illinois' George Ryan and Alaska's Tony Knowles, hadn't decided whether to OK paid holidays that would result in four-day weekends for state workers, according to their press secretaries.
If Knowles is visited by the ghost of Christmas Past, he'll be reminded that Alaska workers traditionally haven't gotten a holiday Dec. 24 or Dec. 31 because paid holidays are a negotiated benefit in state contracts with public employee unions and don't include these days.
States such as Wisconsin, Kentucky and Michigan routinely have given employees a two-day break for both Christmas and New Year's.
Workers in Wyoming and North Dakota will work a half-day on Dec. 24. Colorado workers will get the option of taking off either Dec. 24 or Dec. 31.
In Nebraska, state government is bound by law to shut down whenever the federal government observes a holiday.
Kansas Gov. Bill Graves followed a state regulation allowing him to designate days on which state offices are to be closed in observance of a holiday or a holiday season.
In Mississippi, state workers can take a holiday Dec. 24 at the discretion of agency heads.
Missouri state employees who must work Dec. 24, such as corrections officers and hospital workers, will be given a day off later, said Jerry Nachtigal, spokesman for Gov. Bob Holden.
"I think that it's appropriate, given the events of Sept. 11, that state employees be given Dec. 24 off to spend more time with their families and experience the true meaning of the holiday season," Holden said in a statement.