The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 1, 2010
A.M. Reading: Babin on furloughs; state workers in D.C.; Bee prison investigation

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Bee cartoonist Rex Babin's take on furloughs (above) is just one of several opinion and news items we want to call to your attention this morning. You'll find the rest under our "Recommended Links" on the right side of this page. (Be sure to click "More State Worker Links" at the bottom of that list to view all of this morning's stories.)

Schwarzenegger looks to Capitol Hill crew to bring home the bacon
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been too pleased with what the state of California gets from Washington: He figures taxpayers get back roughly 80 cents for every dollar they pay into the federal government's coffers. It's certainly not for lack of trying to get more. In an attempt to increase the state's haul, the governor has a staff of a half-dozen on Capitol Hill, one of the biggest lobbying corps of any state. Officially, they're not lobbyists. They're state employees.

The Public Eye: California prisoners' rights often trampled
Current and retired officers, prisoners and parolees allege that correctional officers and their superiors routinely file bogus or misleading reports, destroy or falsify documentation of abuses, and intimidate colleagues or inmates who push back. Sources with firsthand knowledge called the problem pervasive, offering dozens of examples. Even if the allegations are valid for a fraction of cases, thousands of prison terms could have been extended improperly at vast cost to taxpayers.

Dan Morain: Can low-rent Brown whip Whitman's wealth?
Attorney General Jerry Brown is defying the laws of political physics, at least for now. Despite unprecedented spending by his Republican foe Meg Whitman, Brown is clinging to a 37-34 percent lead in the race for governor, the latest survey by the Public Policy Institute of California shows. ... An independent campaign operation established by Democrats and organized labor to help Brown has fallen short of its goal of raising $20 million from unions and $10 million from wealthy individuals.

Editorial: Consequences of inaction
One month into the fiscal year with no state budget and hardly a peep from the committee charged with proposing solutions, things are getting serious. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency and reinstituted furloughs for tens of thousands of state workers starting today. Earlier, he said that if he doesn't get the pension, tax and spending reforms he has proposed, he might not sign the budget. Ever ... But if his grandstanding -- including his attempt to reduce state workers' pay to the federal minimum wage -- shakes the budget committee out of its slumber, that would be a good thing.

Is it time for Oregon to drop the PERS pickup'?
Since its inception in 1946, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System has required state workers to contribute a portion of their income to help fund their pension. But in 1979, the state government stepped in and began paying that employee contribution on behalf of state workers. The perk has persisted ever since, although it has gone through some important changes in the intervening years as it came again and again under public scrutiny. And now, once again, the 6 percent pickup faces the budget ax.

Former N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine, Carla Katz's forbidden e-mails are revealed
They are the most fiercely protected secrets of the Jon Corzine years: the contents of e-mails between the former governor and Carla Katz, his ex-girlfriend and a powerful union leader.

How is N.J. Gov. Christie doing on his 88 campaign promises?
Governor Christie, in a fast-paced first six months on the job, has cut the budget and tax rebates, capped property tax hikes and school superintendent pay, and taken on teachers, lobbyists, lawmakers, pollsters and columnists ... No. 17: I will eliminate pension and health benefits for part-time employees and political appointees. Only full-time employees should qualify for a public pension.

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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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