The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 6, 2009
Blog back: Newspaper cuts, rumor blogging and a 7-year-old's insights

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Dec. 29 State worker furloughs: The easy way out?

Since the Bee is suffering from poor circulation and over (sic) buying of other newspapers maybe there should be a 10% cut at the Bee. Of course it isn't the employees fault nevertheless you should take the cut anyway.

The McClatchy Co. has made numerous cuts, including 20 percent of its workforce, in response to the precipitous decline in newspaper advertising revenue and the debt it incurred purchasing the Knight Ridder chain. Read this story by Bee biz department colleague Dale Kasler for more details.

We'll leave it to others to thoughtfully draw similarities and differences between the state of The Bee and the state's financial mess, as did J.J. Jelincic in this Sunday op-ed piece.

I'd like to know just why the Bee believes that it is fair and equitable for state employees to have to take an extra 10 percent cut in pay in addition to the financial pain that they will experience as taxpayers. The state's current budget mess is undeniably a result of the governor and legislature's failure to produce real balanced state budgets over the last 5 years. State employees have no responsibility for or control over the state budget process. Just why then should they be penalized by having to accept a larger share of the burden than other taxpayers? Because it's easy? That's BS. I'd sure appreciate a response to my question?

Here are sections from two Bee editorials that lay out the editorial board's rationale for supporting furloughs. Click on each section to read the entire editorial.

Editorial: Crisis demands action on several fronts

For their part, Democrats are stubbornly opposed to any cuts in the state work force, which does little to bring their GOP counterparts to the table. Where Schwarzenegger hopes to save $263 million this year and $451 million next year by requiring one-day-a-month furloughs for state workers, leading Democrats are claiming that furloughs should be done only through the collective bargaining process.

That's bunk. In this type of emergency, lawmakers and the governor have the authority to enact furloughs, and they need to do it immediately to realize savings in the current fiscal year. Failure to do so could prompt the governor to consider layoffs of state employees. Intransigence by Democrats will also make it harder for Republicans to give on tax hikes, leading the Golden State closer to the brink.

Editorial: Democrats can share budget blame

So far, Democrats have failed to make even the most reasonable of concessions to save California from insolvency.

Consider the topic of state employee furloughs. To save $263 million this year and $451 million next year, the governor last month proposed that nearly all state employees take a one-day furlough each month.

He also proposed eliminating two of the 13 state holidays that state employees receive as well as the premium pay they get for working other holidays. That would save nearly $40 million this year and $74 million next year.

Democrats, however, are balking at the furloughs, a further sign of how beholden they are to public employee unions. By taking this stand, Democrats will likely force Schwarzenegger to order a less desirable alternative - mass layoffs.

Such layoffs would be far more damaging to individual families and Sacramento's economy than the shared sacrifice of furloughs. But the governor has to find ways to reduce payroll costs with a $28 billion, two-year deficit.

Dec. 29 Departments making furlough plans

Jon Ortiz: So you hear and then you also hear, we hear and also hear too! Print something you know is a fact!!

We were satisfied that the sources of this news were strong enough and of sufficient number to post the information on the blog. We're not in the business of blogging baseless rumors. We could not, however, reveal our sources. Hence the phrase, "We're hearing ..."

Given this user's confusion, we'll choose clearer, more specific words in the future.

And now, to lighten the mood ...

In years past
We might well have asked,
What's a default swap and why should we care?
But with the burst of a bubble
And associated trouble,
We now worry our houses might be worth less than air.

Programs will have to be axed.
People will have to be taxed.
The budget is something California's elected leaders have not mastered.
And now Arnold has proposed state worker furloughs; that...meanie!

But on a night that was late in 2008,
On a winter eve as Christmas drew near,
My son Max said to me "if Santa isn't real, that's a thing I don't want to hear."
"Wait 'till I'm 20, tell me then," he said.
He said this to me one night from his bed.

From a seven year-old mind comes an idea that may help us thrive.
Denial is something for which we should strive.
So with family and friends, let's bring in the New Year with a whole lot of cheer.
Because certainly, certainly recovery is near!

Terrific post proving once again that user contributions give this blog energy, entertainment value and insight.

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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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