The State Worker

California state pay, benefit costs to grow by $560 million

Professional Engineers in California Government Executive Director Bruce Blanning. His union is one of four with contracts that expire this year.
Professional Engineers in California Government Executive Director Bruce Blanning. His union is one of four with contracts that expire this year. The Sacramento Bee

The pot of money for state workers’ salary and benefits would grow by more than a half-billion dollars in the coming fiscal year, under the terms of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 budget proposal.

About $467 million of the $560 million increase covers raises already scheduled for many union-covered employees, exempt state managers and supervisors, said Nick Schroeder, who tracks state employee costs for the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The balance would go to medical-benefit cost hikes and other anticipated employee-expense increases.

The payroll for the state’s 220,000 employees cost an estimated $16.34 billion for the current fiscal year. That figure does not include California’s state university systems or judicial branch employees.

Four union contracts covering about 55,000 state workers expire at July start of the coming fiscal year. Brown’s budget plan doesn’t include any new money for those employees.

That doesn’t mean the administration won’t negotiate raises. Brown could bargain pay hikes and then add up the numbers later, even after July 1 start of the next fiscal year.

“So we really won’t know about raises until (the unions) come in,” Schroeder said.

Contracts covering correctional officers, civil engineers, heavy equipment operators and scientists all expire this summer. State firefighters, whose union contract doesn’t expire until 2017, have said they’ll invoke a provision in their agreement to negotiate for more pay this year.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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