The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 27, 2009
Furlough paychecks hit employees today

Today the first furlough paychecks went out to state workers, and today, for many, it's the first time that the notion of taking home nearly 10 percent less pay became real.

Phone calls we've received from state workers reflect the range of emotion that they're feeling. Some are angry. Others are resigned. One person started to cry.

And then there are the e-mails. Some samples:

I just wanted you to know that I just got my state worker paycheck. My take home pay is $453 less. My family will not be going out to eat or buying anything until after July 2010. We will not even be able to make any donations to charity that we usually do in December. They say retired senior citizens are on fixed incomes, yet they do get a COLA raise in January. As a state worker, I have not had a COLA for three years, and have now been cut 9.23%. State workers are not only on fixed incomes, they are on dying incomes. No more half price lures, no more movies, no more new clothes, no new car, no new appliances. This is going to be a long spiral down, just as I thought we could retire and enjoy ourselves. This feels like the Great Depression my parents talked about.
Jon, In case you're curious, we've been getting our paychecks today and it's not pretty. My check, as an Office Assistant (Typist), was $150 less take home than it used to be. My mother, an Assistant Information Systems Analyst, had her take home drop by $300. We will salute the governor with our Top Ramen meals for the next seventeen months.
Today, thousands of state workers received their first pay check reflecting the 10%decreasese in pay. Even though I knew it was coming and had set up a budget for the lessor pay I was still utterly shocked to see it in black in white. The room began to spin I am sure that I would have fainted if I hadn't sat down. I am a single parent receiving no other financial assistant ( child support). Everyone says it, we are being punished for the legislators not doing their job, but how do we get them to suffer the same as us make them feel it in their bank accounts too. With the rising cost of everything I feel so depressed and contacting EAP isn't going to help. I am fearful that someone with be hurt today either by self injury or riots I don't know I am just so very sad and scared for the people of California it affects everyone in some way.

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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


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