Warner Lays Off 1,800 Virginia Employees

Gov. Mark R. Warner slashed 1,800 state jobs Tuesday as he cut $858 million from state agencies to address a $1.5 billion shortfall in the Virginia budget. He warned there could be more layoffs.

"These decisions have not been easy, and I have not made them lightly,'' Warner said in remarks prepared for a statewide address Tuesday night. "I know this is going to hurt.''

State law permits Warner to cut up to 15 percent from the budget when the Legislature is not in session. Included in the cuts is a 20 percent cut in Warner's $124,855 annual salary.

The cuts hit higher education and include $46.2 million from the community college system, $36 million at Virginia Tech, $32 million from the University of Virginia and $31 million at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Reductions in state support to colleges could produce as many as 4,500 layoffs, but that blow could be softened by the institutions, which can raise tuition and other costs to offset the loss of state funding.

Spared deep cuts was funding for public safety, Medicaid and direct aid to public education. Direct state care for the mentally ill in state institutions also escaped cuts, although funding for community-based mental health services did not.