Budgets declare priorities. So when California’s governors issue their initial state revenue and spending projections in January, everyone with a stake in the process immediately looks for where they stand.
That was particularly true for state workers and their unions on Jan. 10. Just two months earlier, voters had approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot measure to increase taxes. Unions had put money and organizational muscle behind the proposal, which won despite conventional wisdom that it was a long shot to pass.
Brown’s budget proposal was an early peek into what he planned to do with the new taxes. State workers were particularly interested for several reasons: Contracts for most state workers were set to expire, and many thought that Brown owed it to his employees to come through with raises. After years of contractually-stagnant wages and furloughs – including one that Brown pushed to burnish his cost-cutter credentials ahead of the tax vote – many state employees figured it was time for a pay raise.
There also was some low-level buzz that Brown wanted to extend the furloughs.
Either way, the January budget proposal for fiscal 2013-14 would give a hint of what Brown planned to do for or do to state workers. Hence the high interest in The State Worker’s breaking-news report on the $97.7 million budget proposal, the 9th-most-viewed blog item of 2013, California state workforce to remain flat, cost more in fiscal 2013-14.