Texas Pays Out Big for Workers’ Unused Vacation Time.  This was the headline for the Star-Telegram story about payments to state employees for unused vacation time. Critics were quoted as saying that the payments, amounting to $500 million, are “ridiculous.” But the story is missing some crucial context. Going back to the days when I was a state employee in the Senate, it has been acknowledged that the state is not going to pay high salaries for its employees, but the tradeoff is that the state has a lot of holidays and pays employees for unused vacation time and for comp time. (The Legislative Reference Library, for instance, stays open whenever the House or the Senate is in session). Now it appears that critics want to end the practice. I can see why fiscal conservatives would be upset about this, but doing away with paying for unused vacation time amounts to a cut in pay for state employees, most of whom aren’t making a lot of money in the first place.