The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 4, 2009
Furlough update: What's up with the constitutionals?

Thumbnail image for Chiang1.jpgRemember the raging debate over whether Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has the authority to furlough employees in state constitutional offices?

(Quick refresher: The constitutional officers include Controller John Chiang, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, Attorney General Jerry Brown and the Board of Equalization. A total of 15,000 employees work under them.)

Remember how Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette in early April ruled that Schwarzenegger is the ultimate state worker boss?

And remember how the constitutionals, led by Controller John Chiang, said they'd appeal Marlette's ruling?

Well, they have. And the folks in their departments still have not been furloughed. Thumbnail image for 090205 Marlette.jpg

Here's why: The constitutionals' took their case to the 3rd District Court of Appeals, an action that automatically froze their furlough-free status quo. The Schwarzenegger administration could have asked the court to order the furlough proceed, but the administration decided against it.

"Courts apply a very high legal standard when considering whether to grant relief from an automatic stay," Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said in an e-mail. "Our lawyers decided that given the enormity of the State's ever-growing deficit, the impact of not furloughing those 15,000 employees didn't appear to meet the court's 'irreparable harm' criteria."

Click here to view the 3rd Court's register of actions in the case.

IMAGES: John Chiang (top) / Bee file photo; Patrick Marlette / Bee file photo

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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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