The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 14, 2009
Senate report says furlough savings 'illusory' at 24/7 facilities

Senate office of oversight and outcomes logo.JPGThe Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes has released a report today that concludes furloughs are carrying a deferred cost for hospitals, prisons and other 24/7 state operations.

From a press release about the report:

In round-the-clock institutions, employees in positions that must be filled day and night are generally not taking off three days per month. Instead, while absorbing the 14% reduction in income, they are working furlough days and banking time to be taken off in the future.

In the prison system, where 70 percent of all state workers paid by the general fund are employed, officials say the long-term cost of furloughs is greater than the savings. But corrections officials say they were told by the administration that short-term payroll savings are more important than future liabilities.

Remarkably, correctional workers banked 1.5 million furlough hours between February and August 2009. Most are correctional officers. At a pay rate of $34.91 an hour, those hours create a future liability of at least $52 million.

When correctional officers do take time off, they generally use furlough days, not vacation days. As a result, from February through August of 2009, the number of unused vacation days accrued by correctional officers jumped 500 percent. This massive buildup of vacation time will complicate prison staffing in the future. The accrued vacation will increase costs, because many workers will be at a higher pay rate when they finally do use their vacation hours.

Furloughs fail to save the $108 million projected by the administration in the prison healthcare system, according to the court-appointed agency operating inmate medical care. Instead, officials say, paying overtime and hiring private workers to fill in for furloughed employees will more than offset any savings.

Furloughs are projected to increase costs within the prison health care system by $37 million to $47 million this year, according to the court-appointed receiver. They say furloughs also create a "management nightmare" and interfere with the court-mandated effort to improve inmate medical care.

Employees in California's dozen mental hospitals and developmental centers are also being forced to work furlough days. They are racking up large balances of furlough and vacation time.

An excerpt from the report:

Asked to justify the imposition of furloughs on these full-time operations, the governor's office responded in writing, without elaboration: "For the most part, 24-hour facilities are on self-directed furlough, and this results in savings."

Click here to download the 15-page report.


About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on 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 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 Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

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


Now on the State Worker column

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.

Latest Capitol Alert headlines

    404 - Not Found - The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California

    404 Not Found

    Our apologies....

    We can't find the page you requested in this location.

    The story may have moved or expired.

    You may wish to:

  • » More on the Capitol Alert blog


May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Monthly Archives