The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 19, 2009
Whitman's state-workforce plan; Brown on legislative pay cuts

090809 Whitman Meg Hector.JPGGOP candidate Meg Whitman's plan for shrinking the state workforce appears to have evolved from layoffs to attrition, although the details remain sketchy.

One of The Bee's sister papers, The Tribune in San Luis Obispo, has a story today with this lead:

California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman says she would "skinny down the bureaucracy" if she is elected, saving 12,000 jobs a year for three years by not hiring people to replace state employees who leave.

Here's a timeline of Bee reports on Whitman's state workforce cuts:

Click the following link to read the rest of this post.

Feb. 22: Whitman, who was publicly endorsed Saturday by ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a former business associate, told reporters she would have doubled state furloughs and cut California's government work force by 10 percent. In her speech, she said: "Continuing to raise taxes and fees is simply unsustainable."
Feb. 26: Whitman, the former eBay CEO, last weekend talked about reducing employee "head count" by 10 percent "across the board" and told reporters that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should have doubled the two-days-per-month employee furloughs that started this month.

She figures the state can save $4 billion in five years from attrition, better management and better technology.
May 15: Meg Whitman, who became a billionaire while helping eBay grow to 346 million users, called Thursday for sharply shrinking California's work force by laying off more than 30,000 state employees.

In a luncheon speech to the Roseville Chamber of Commerce and an interview afterward, the Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Silicon Valley CEO repeatedly spoke of slashing "head count" and said she would outdo Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in cutting state employee ranks.

On a day when Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating 5,000 state jobs and cutting $9 billion from the budget, Whitman said: "I would do a bigger number of layoffs."
Sept. 22: "I would streamline the number of bureaucrats who work in the government," Whitman told the Bakersfield Californian in July. "There's at least 17,000 midlevel bureaucrats that, I think, need to go because we have a government we cannot afford."

That same day, Whitman talked about shrinking the state workforce with Bee reporter Jack Chang. Here's what she said during a taped interview with Chang: "Part of it (workforce reductions) would be through attrition. Twelve thousand people per year retire from (state) civil service. Basically it would be a hiring freeze."

As the Trib story today notes, Whitman "did not set forth specific proposals for dealing with the gridlocked Legislature, despite questioning."

We asked the Whitman campaign where they got that number and when the attrition plan had surfaced. Spokeswoman Sarah Pompei sent this e-mail:

"Meg has been discussing her plans to trim down the size of the state government bureaucracy since the earliest days of the campaign. Approximately one-quarter of the employees under the Governor's control are 55 and older and are expected to retire or leave government service in the next four years. Therefore, it can be assumed that state government would lose approximately 12,000 workers per year."

In other news, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has announced that lawmakers' pay can be cut starting next month. Click here for Jim Sanders' story about it. Brown is expected to eventually announce he'll seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

IMAGE: Meg Whitman in El Dorado Hills / Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee, Aug. 7, 2009

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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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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