The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 19, 2010
Blog back: Scaring state workers

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

Our reporting on AB 790 upset some State Worker blog users. We'll give you some insights into how and why we decided to post this item:

Mar. 16 Budget gimmick looks like an earlier chance to withhold pay

Nice way to scare the state workforce early Jon. You should be ashamed and the governor should be ashamed for even pressing the point of state employees getting minimum wage if a budget is not in place ...

I was wondering what happened to the official state worker instigator/hater. It's been about a week since Mr. Ortiz has bashed state workers ...

Click the following link to read about the evolution of the AB 790 post.

We debated for several weeks about whether to write that one of last year's budget gimmicks could give Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger the option to order state worker pay temporarily withheld to the federal minimum in June instead of July.

We asked officials in the administration whether AB X4 12, the bill that pushed June payroll into the next fiscal year, would have this unanticipated consequence.

After several days, the word came back from the Department of Personnel Administration: We don't know the answer, and it's not pressing enough for us to find out right now.

So we let it rest. Then along came the Senate Appropriations' analysis of AB 790, which would make employee payroll a continuous appropriation, thereby eliminating the legal basis for the executive to withhold pay in the absence of an on-time budget. That analysis, which is public record and a factor in lawmakers' decisions whether to oppose or support the bill, answered the question that we had posed.

That made it news. And so, after talking with Senate Appropriations staff to make sure we understood the analysis correctly, we reported it. We knew that it would upset some state workers, but if avoiding that reaction -- or provoking it -- became the standard for this blog's content, we would be paralyzed.

We figure that this blog's users want information, whether it pleases them or challenges them. So we aim to inform. That's it.

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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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