Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said this morning that Democrats are willing to make the permanent reductions to state employee benefits in law Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is seeking as long as the administration and unions negotiate "in good faith" for 30 days first.
Speaking to The Bee Capitol Bureau the day after budget talks with Schwarzenegger broke down, the Sacramento Democrat said the administration must negotiate with the unions before imposing furloughs or asking lawmakers to make permanent changes to employees' benefits. The governor issued an executive order to furlough state employees two days a month for 17 months and wants lawmakers to permanently eliminate two paid holidays and change holiday overtime rules for state workers
Steinberg noted that state employee contracts have expired .... and said "there has not been any effort by the administration to negotiate successor contracts."
While he acknowledged "the state has nothing to give because of the financial situation," he said it makes sense for the administration to consult with employee unions because they may have other ideas about how to save money.
"It's reasonable to sit down for 30 days and at least consider the views" of worker representatives, he said.
And if those talks were conducted in good faith but failed to produce agreement, lawmakers would support the permanent changes the governor seeks, Steinberg said.
He said lawmakers have an interest in finding savings in the state workforce because if they don't, "that's going to mean deeper cuts to health and human services or some other area."
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to email@example.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.