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Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee

A wall and guard tower at San Quentin State Prison.

California fiscal analyst recommends cutting Corrections overtime proposal in half for 2014-15

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 3:24 pm

Authorities running California’s prison system have overstated how much money they need next year to cover staff overtime, according to a new report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst.

Using estimates by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget includes $207.2 million to pay correctional officers’ OT. But the Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests that figure is double what it should be and that lawmakers should cut it by $104 million. Prison officials have other ways to fill vacancies for sick leave or vacation that often contribute to overtime, the analyst’s review said, such as using less-expensive permanent intermittent correctional officers.

Also, the analyst said that the department has enough money to cover the difference if it uses money earmarked to fill vacant positions.

Prison officials have an incentive to keep the overtime budget inflated to give themselves more financial flexibility with money allocated to fill vacant positions. In 2012-13 for example, Corrections was hit with $290 million in workers’ compensation claims when it had budgeted just $210 million.

In order to cover the $80 million shortfall, the analyst said, “CDCR redirected unused funds from various places within its budget, including funds tied to vacant positions.”

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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