The State Worker

California fiscal analyst recommends cutting Corrections overtime proposal in half for 2014-15

Authorities running California’s prison system have overstated how much money they need next year to cover staff overtime, according to a new report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst.

Using estimates by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget includes $207.2 million to pay correctional officers’ OT. But the Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests that figure is double what it should be and that lawmakers should cut it by $104 million. Prison officials have other ways to fill vacancies for sick leave or vacation that often contribute to overtime, the analyst’s review said, such as using less-expensive permanent intermittent correctional officers.

Also, the analyst said that the department has enough money to cover the difference if it uses money earmarked to fill vacant positions.

Prison officials have an incentive to keep the overtime budget inflated to give themselves more financial flexibility with money allocated to fill vacant positions. In 2012-13 for example, Corrections was hit with $290 million in workers’ compensation claims when it had budgeted just $210 million.

In order to cover the $80 million shortfall, the analyst said, “CDCR redirected unused funds from various places within its budget, including funds tied to vacant positions.”