Gov. Jerry Brown said this morning that he wants state employees in unions without contracts to accept $308 million in concessions as part of a wide-ranging downshift in state spending. He also wants to add a lower health insurance option for state workers and retirees.
The cuts would be bargained to cover 63,000 state workers represented by California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment; California Correctional Peace Officers Association; California Statewide Law Enforcement Association; Professional Engineers in California Government; California Association of Professional Scientists; and International Union of Operating Engineers.
"This will all be done through collective bargaining and I'm sure there will be resistance. But that's what collective bargaining is for," Brown said.
Brown's budget proposal adds a "core health care option" that saves $72 million by providing "fundamental coverage at a lower premium," according to the 2011-12 budget summary of employee compensation and retirement.
The state faces at least a $25 billion deficit over the next 18 months. Along with cuts to employee compensation, Brown is proposing slashing college budgets, welfare and other services. He also proposed shifting many of the policies and services that the state now handles, such as juvenile justice and short-term inmate incarceration, to local governments.
It's not clear what the long-term impact would be to the size of state government or the number of state workers. To ease the transition, the governor wants the Legislature to put up a ballot measure to extend taxes or another five years set to expire this year. If the measure fails, he said, the impact to the budget is fairly simple to estimate.
"Look through those different slides" he said pointing to a monitor that detailed $12.5 billion in cuts across the government spectrum, "and multiply by two."
Brown demurred when asked about budget specifics if voters reject the tax extension: "Some people would say I'm putting a gun to their head, so I'm not going to do that."