The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 18, 2009
One man's take on Schwarzenegger, ways to save money

We take plenty of calls and e-mail from state workers who criticize Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for furloughing employees and planning layoffs as ingredients for easing California's financial crunch. This letter to Schwarzenegger and the author's prologue to it sums up the tone of what we're hearing every day:

From: Robert H Nunn
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 3:20 PM
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Letter to Gov.

I sent this email (below) to the Governor this morning about saving money in the state budget; I fear that he is not really serious about saving money, but is only politically motivated to "beat up" on state employees. Arnie's chief game plan is to lay state employees off and further worsen the California economy and he won't be happy until he achieves this goal.

This is the way things were also, back when Jerry Brown was governor in 1976 during the Caltrans layoffs. Jerry wasn't happy until he and Adriana Gianturkey laid off several thousand Caltrans engineers which they accomplished (I was one of them); then, a year or two later after they had literally gutted Caltrans and made it ineffective, they then tried to hire back all the Caltrans engineers that they had laid off.

I fear that politics hasn't changed much over the years. Gov. Arnie has it out for all state employees now!!

My email to the Governor was as follows:

Dear Governor:

If the Governor would like to save some money in the state budget, here are a few possible suggestions:

1. Retrieve approx. 10-15% if all the state agency's operating expense budgets; this should amount to several million dollars in savings and this money could be placed right back in the general fund immediately to make up for deficits.

2. Reduce all unnecessary travel and training for all state agencies immediately and make it supervisor approved only; these items could be reduced easily by all state agencies; this should also result in many thousands of dollars of savings (i.e., we are sending people to Traffic Ops academy in Fresno and paying for training and travel costs; this kind of training should be postponed until the budget normalizes and we have adequate funding for training such as this. I, for one, would rather have a full paycheck than Caltrans be paying for training); many Project Development Team meetings could be held via video conference (i.e., why have region folks travel all the way from Fresno to SLO for meetings and pay for travel when meetings could all be held via videoconference.)

3. Offer an early retirement proposal such as 2 years service or 2 years age for all state agencies; this would entice some folks to retire a lot earlier than they normally would; the KEY to the savings would be, of course, NOT to backfill the vacated positions.

4. Implement a hiring freeze for all vacant positions in state government; vacant positions could only be backfilled on exemption basis only.

Thank your for your consideration on this matter.

Robert H. Nunn, P.E.
PECG Member

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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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