The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 19, 2010
Audit: Deferred Corrections furloughs to cost up to $563 million

The Bureau of State Audits released a Corrections and Rehabilitation Department report yesterday that looked at the costs of health care for "three strikes" inmates. What grabbed our attention was the section titled, "Furloughs Have Created New Liabilities," which starts on page 60 of the 80-page document.

At page 61, the auditor makes these calculations and conclusions (we've added paragraphs and bold type for readability and emphasis):

By multiplying the number of hours of furlough credit provided to an individual each month since the program began by the number of filled correctional officer positions in those months, and using the June 2009 staffing level to project the number of correctional officers employed in future periods, we estimate that more than 8.7 million hours of furlough credit will have been earned by correctional officers under this program by the time it is scheduled to end in June 2010.

At the typical pay rate of $35 per hour for an officer with six years of experience, this represents a liability of $304 million. However, if the increase in leave balances due to staff using furlough instead of their regular types of leave is not paid out until individuals retire, this liability will likely increase over time as individuals receive pay increases or are promoted.

Further, if Corrections were to increase staffing or allow more overtime so correctional officers are able to use the additional leave they accrued, this liability would represent $455 million in staffing costs.

Finally, because staff continue to earn leave while absent, or when leave balances are paid out when they quit or retire, our estimate of the total number of furlough hours provided to correctional officers will result in more than 1.2 million additional hours of vacation, sick, and holiday leave. Consequently, we estimate that the total cost of the furlough program for correctional officers--not including sergeants and lieutenants--will be $28 million to $63 million higher because of this factor, for a total of $332 million or $563 million, depending on whether correctional officers are paid for their leave balances when they quit or retire or use them.

Click here for a summary of the report. This link opens an audit fact sheet.

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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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