The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 3, 2009
Senate president pushes to reduce furloughs

090903 Steinberg.jpgSenate President Darrell Steinberg wants state worker furloughs pared back, he said in a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this morning:

In the months since the furloughs began, the evidence shows that the policy is costing the state money and further hurting the economy. It is a significant district issue for me as I represent so many state employees.

Information we have gathered indicates that California will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in our general fund at the state tax agencies alone. The current furlough policy has become a "penny saved, a dollar lost" approach that can be corrected immediately.

The State Worker reported last month in this column that Steinberg was planning to push legislation for unspecified budget cuts equal to one furlough day per month. That would allow Schwarzenegger to call off the third furlough day that started in July without a fiscal impact. From the letter:

I suggest that we pass urgency legislation to buy-out a day of furloughs with an across-the-board reduction on the state bureaucracy. This time, we ought to cut from the top down, not the bottom up.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear called The State Worker with this statement:

"Sen. Steinberg and Gov. Schwarzenegger have fundamental difference when it comes to furloughing state workers. The governor believes that they should cut back, like all California families and businesses. Sen. Steinberg thinks state workers should be shielded from economic realities that the rest of the state faces."

Steinberg also calls for the Legislature to enact AB 88, the SEIU Local 1000 contract that would pare back furloughs to just one day per month for the 95,000 workers covered by the agreement. As we noted in today's State Worker column (click here to read it), Local 1000 has launched a media campaign to pressure Schwarzenegger to publicly back the deal, since his administration negotiated it.

Click here to read Steinberg's letter to Schwarzenegger. (NOTE 1:15 P.M.: TSW posted an HTML copy of the letter with the incorrect letterhead. It has been replaced with a PDF with the correct letterhead.)

"We welcome (Steinberg's) interest and his determination to pass AB 88," said Local 1000 spokesman Jim Zamora. "We look forward to working with the governor and Republicans in the Legislature to find a way to make AB 88 work. And We agree with Sen. Steinberg's diagnosis of the problems furloughs cause."

That last line is a reference to a "preliminary findings" attachment Steinberg's office sent out with the Senator's letter. Click here to read that document.

IMAGE: Darrell Steinberg / Sacramento 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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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