The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 8, 2009
Blog back: CHP, cuts and CalPERS

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

Note: We've updated recent posts this morning with new links and information. Scroll down the TSW homepage to see them.

May 29 'You can't discount anything' on furloughs

Hey Jon,

The next time to (sic) talk to McLear, you might mention (if you think of it) that some of us state employees wouldn't mind having the state shut down every Friday.

It seems unlikely the state will shut down one day each week because dark government buildings are a political liability, as this story points out.

What about cuts for California Highway Patrol? Make all cuts fair across the board!!

The administration has said its pay cut proposal includes CHP officers, even though their bargaining unit is under contract, unlike every other unionized state worker group. You can read what California Association of Highway Patrolmen Executive Director Jon Hamm said in our Sunday story that ran on page A1 of the fiber Bee by clicking here.

Wow, slant your articles much Sacbee? I dont know about these contractors but when I used to do contract work for the state I charged $200/hr. Whats more, I charged interest when they paid me late! I dont think there are many state workers making that much. But hey Jon Ortiz, I guess that doesnt fit into your anti-worker agenda does it. Are you Jim Hill using a new pen name? Had to switch names after you were discredited?
A personal services contract is a contract with a company to provide people to do some work. In theory, these services require specialized skills that state workers may not have, or they are for a such a short term project that it is not feasible to hire state workers to do it.

In practice, some of these contracts are for normal skills that most state workers are capable of and can go on for years.

This is the crux of the debate over the state's outside contracting practices. The problem with universal assertions about private services contracts is that the generalizations usually focus on a single issue: pay. But as the second post noted, there are other issues in play, such as the existing skill level of state workers, the cost of training to raise those skill levels and the expense of potential lifetime employment / retirement / benefits.

That can make cost comparisons difficult.

We don't think that the post was slanted. It merely noted key information lacking in the union's assertion. It's the same kind of thing that we questioned in this blog back post about Meg Whitman's assertion that state government can be cut by 30,000 to 40,000 jobs without impacting services.

... Most private sector layoffs come because there is not enough work for the employees on the payroll. However, with government that is not always true. With a recession, there is usually more work for most of government employees. For example, more people are applying for unemployment benefits during a recession than in prosperous times. So, state employees, as well as most local employees, get hit twice as hard. There is more work than ever before, but you get less pay for doing...more work!

This argument implies that government job growth reacts to the economy. That would mean the bureaucracy should slim down when the economy is strong, but it doesn't. Our opinion: Since government revenue is limited only by what it forces citizens to pay, its size is more a function of politics than economics.

You can read more blog backs by clicking the link below.

June 4 Management group mobilizing against pay cut

This 5% cut is going to have unintended consequences for all State departments. Expect mass exoduses of state employees age 50+ with years of experience and institutional knowledge. A big number are already contacting CalPERS to retire ASAP.

Anecdotally, we're hearing the same thing. We're talking to CalPERS to see if we can get data that confirms or refutes this.

June 4 Furlough update: What's up with the constitutionals?

The following posts exemplify how two people can read the same thing and have entirely different reactions:

Jon - Thank you for this explanation. I don't think it has ever been spelled out in the Bee's coverage, and as you can tell from the comments over the past couple of months the disparity has left a lot of folks wondering.

Welcome. Sorry that it took so long to get back to the issue. We've been busy.

BTW, I guess Sac Bee wasn't satisfied with publishing half-truths, rumors, lies, and other misinformation about "state workers" and having the rest of CA "hate" or resent us state employees. So...they publish this little gem so that now even state employees can resent one antoher. (sic) How lovely.

Furloughs are always a hot TSW topic, since, unlike layoffs, the policy touches just about everyone:

Not furloughing the "constitutional" workers and DPA's attitude that 15,000 workers doesn't appear to meet the court's "irreparable harm" criteria makes a symbolic mockery of furloughing state workers in the first place. Just goes to show that it was done more for show and to appeal to public prejudice than they amount of money the state could save.
Here's something that conveniently wasn't published: the consititutional officer department that I work for re-worked their budget to show a 10% reduction IN PLACE OF the 10% salary loss of its employees ... CHP officers are not being furloughed yet they are state employees and nobody is complaining about them.

We can't report things that we don't know about. We've noted that the governor whacked money from the constitutional's personal services budgets as part of the 2009-10 budget. Individual offices have asserted they've cut costs, but none has shown us exactly what they did, even when we've asked for specifics.

Why is Calpers furlouging (sic) then? They have proposition 162!

Click here to see what CalPERS has said to its employees in March about its furlough policy.

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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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