The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 10, 2009
Blog back: CalTrans, the calculator and corraling state worker news

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

July 27 You know the state's in a budget hole when...

This is nothing new. Paper, pens, three-ring binders, printer ink, you name it, its hard to get your hands on even when there is a budget. Last year we were out of ink for two months and got yelled at for using the printer down the hall because it didn't "belong" to our project. I buy my own office supplies and bring them to work. It beats doing 3 hours of paperwork and phone calls to get a dozen three ring binders

We hear these kinds of stories regularly, but rarely do we get memos that so clearly illustrate the problem.

One user suggested a way to mitigate supply shortages:

They should have a "common" bulletin board where offices can post what supplies they need and other offices could reply if they have some they can spare. I made this suggestion within our Department but they shot it down. Go figure...

July 27 No fourth furlough day to make up budget shortfall

Within 3 months when the budget comes up billions short GAS will impose every friday as a furlough friday. All the Schmucks did was kick the can down the road. The future cuts will be more painful than if the bleeps in Sacto would have done their job. But its politics as usual.

We agree: Never say never when it comes a fourth "Furlough Friday," given the state of California's economy.

If revenues continue to dwindle and the general fund continues to crumble, as Bee colleague Dan Walters expects, lawmakers could be back to talking about more budget cuts. It's hard to imagine that the governor would leave state workers out of that conversation.

Here comes Federal Minimum Wage!!!!

You won't see that idea come back until next summer, and only if lawmakers don't agree on a 2010-11 budget . The governor can't impose the minimum wage when money has been appropriated for state employee payroll. That happened in February with the first iteration of the the 2009-10 budget. So now we'll have to wait and see what happens with negotiations for the coming fiscal year.

July 28 Caltrans workers on furlough Friday didn't get overtime

Thank you CalTrans for doing your job. Some of us have to be bigger than the little people. Your actions do not go unnoticed.
The facility I work at has about 50 people retiring between now and the end of the year because of the moronators actions. We're going to be hurting big.

We've heard from several long-time state workers that furloughs have pushed them to consider retiring earlier than they'd planned. Is that going to speed up institutional memory and skill losses? If you have a story to tell about furlough-prompted early retirements your department, let us know.

July 29 State worker news from Sacramento, the state and the nation

Sacramento Bee: What happened with the story about the Cal Trans engineer who stated that there were private contractors working on "Furlough Friday"???

We don't recall that story right off. Perhaps someone will shoot us an e-mail to jog our memory or post a comment here to help out this user.

By the way, we're now using Publish2 to link to news stories of state worker interest, and the service also archives older links. You'll find the continually updated list on the right side of this page under "Recommended Links." At the bottom of that section you can click on "More State Worker Links" to see the full archive.

Occasionally we'll see a story that we think deserves extra attention, and we'll post it to the blog as a separate item. And if you see a story that we've missed, let us know.

July 29 What will your paycheck look like?

I try to give the Bee the benefit of the doubt that it does not deliberately attempt to incite resentment against state workers, I really do. But to see the "sample" state worker salary indicated in this spreadsheet as an outrageous $10,000 a month, it is very difficult to do so. Half of that amount would be a little less blatant, and about a third would be the most accurate representation of what "Joe State Worker" really makes.

The monetary amount was a figure used to check the accuracy of the calculator prior to posting, not as a sample state worker pay. Once called to our attention, we removed it. We understand that state worker pay is a sensitive subject.

Sacramento BEEEE ESSSSS needs to stop posting garbage for the sake of having something to post. What is it with you guys? Do you have a quota of BEE ESS to meet everyday?

Actually, we posted the furlough wage calculator at the suggestion of a state worker. It seemed like a quick, simple and accurate alternative to the SCO's paycheck calculator, which you can download by clicking here.

Boy am I glad I retired last year!

There may be an bigger-than-usual number of state workers who say that next year. We're looking into it.

July 30 Caltrans earned two APWA awards

But according to the Bee and many of the Bloggers, Caltrans is full of useless and lazy State Workers who deserve to be furloughed even though the furloughs don't save any money from the general fund.

We can't speak for anything except TSW, but we have never called CalTrans employees "useless" or "lazy" or deserving of furlough. We're not aware of anyone else at The Bee who has made those charges, but perhaps we missed something. Specifics, please?

Some state workers didn't think much of the award. They would prefer more money for achievements (and who wouldn't?). This post stood out because it took a different angle:

When you work for the state, you know there is no such thing as a bonus. A thanks and a pat on the back actually means alot.

July 30 Consultant evaluates BOE building

i bet if a study was done that most of the state owned buildings would have these same problem and more.

Interesting hypothesis. Let's open it up: Send us your building stories.

July 30 Unemployment board gets another nudge to clear backlog

I asked the Sac-Bee months ago what was the approval rating of the GAS and Legislature. They slammed me and said I was full of blank. I said the GAS's approval rating was less than Bush. They bashed me and said his approval rating was over 30%. Well what is today -10% and what is the approval rating of the Legislature 14%? Either way they both are beyond total failure in the eyes of the voters and the tax payers of this State. Care to comment now Sac-Bee? What is that approval rating?

Read the the blog back to which the user refers by clicking here . Scroll down to the April 9 TSW post, Billwatch: Read the latest analysis of the SEIU Local 1000 contract, and read the second highlighted comment. Our response made no reference to the individual who posted the comment, so we're not certain how that user concluded he or she was "bashed."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest job approval rating, as tracked by the Public Policy Institute of California, went from 32 percent in April to 34 percent in May before diving down to 28 percent in July. (There was no survey in June.) Click here to view his popularity's downward spiral over time.

By comparison, President George W. Bush's job approval ranged between 24 percent and 33 percent during his last two weeks in office, depending on the poll. Click here to see's survey roundup for more.

July 31 Christmas in July for state workers in West Virginia?

Sac-Bee I could care less what's happening in West Virgina. You are only posting this trash to get a raise out of the State Workers. I might find this interesting if the cost of living in West Virgina was twice as much as California, until this happens and it never will, who cares?

We keep an eye on state worker news in other states because we operate from an assumption that TSW users like to be informed about events elsewhere. We don't pick stories with an agenda or bias other than looking for common themes, larger trends or, as in this case, noteworthy exceptions to the general rule.

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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