The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 18, 2011
A.M. Reading: Budget interests; pensions; redevelopment rush

As leaders and lawmakers look at the coming budget year, various interests are promoting their favorite causes, as you'll see in this morning's selection of state worker/state budget news and views from California and around the country:

Brown's Countdown, Day 9: Special interests with hands in the budget pie
Most groups have not taken a formal position, but we assess where the major political powers are likely to stand in the months ahead:

Opposing view on public pensions: Blame Wall Street
With revenues plummeting during the economic crisis, states and cities across the country face real budget challenges. It is simply wrong, however, to suggest that modest retirement benefits paid to public service retirees are a cause, or even a part, of the budget problems facing governments

John Moorlach: Budget pain overlooks schools, pensions
... Gov. Brown should negotiate pension rollbacks. Government in-house attorneys will tell you that pension formulas can be increased but not decreased, I understand their bias, but I believe they are wrong. Pension formulas are a two-way street, and this should be explored, and quickly. What goes up can, and must, come down.

Many cities, counties fast-track redevelopment projects
Cities and counties across California are putting more than $1 billion in redevelopment projects on the fast track in an apparent attempt to beat Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies.

Brown's prison plan has a hitch: County jails are overcrowded, too
Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to transfer state inmates to county jails faces a simple obstacle: Many jails don't have the space to hold them.

Reports Show Oklahoma's Pension System Could Run Dry By 2020
Recent reports suggest Oklahoma's retirement systems -- for teachers, firefighters, police officers and state workers -- are among the least fiscally stable in the country and could run out of money at the end of this decade.

Deep layoffs take effect in struggling Camden, NJ
Police officers are turning in their badges and firefighters plan to march on City Hall as impoverished Camden, N.J., puts deep layoffs into effect. The government layoffs began Tuesday in the crime-ridden city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Up to one-fourth of Camden's goverment workers are expected to lose their jobs.

REGION: GOP lawmakers say Brown's budget cuts aren't enough
Four of the region's six GOP state legislators said Monday they don't believe Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal that includes $12.5 billion in cuts goes far enough in trimming state spending.

Pension reform or else
Gov. Jerry Brown's commitment to make the tough decisions required for the long-term health of California presents the perfect opportunity to reform the state's public pension systems, but his proposed budget solutions do not include any significant changes in this crucial area.

State workers rally against 5 percent budget cuts in Helena
A college welding instructor, a state microbiologist, a chemical treatment center technician and a Job Service business advocate spoke at a rally for state employee unions Monday to urge Montana lawmakers to pass the governor's proposed budget and the state pay plan. Nearly 100 state employees from a handful of cities took time out from their Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday to come to the Capitol to oppose the 5 percent cuts by legislative subcommittees last week to Gov. Brian Schweitzer's budget and to endorse the pay plan agreed to by unions and the administration.

State-employee union targeted
A Republican state lawmaker is seeking to reverse a 2007 executive order authorizing Colorado state employees to join unions and collectively bargain.

Kevin Riordan: Camden firefighter facing the end of his career on Tuesday
Camden firefighter Bob Eckert isn't just losing a job; he's losing a career, a calling, and a childhood dream. ... "From Day One, (New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie bad-mouthed us public employees," Eckert says. "He paints us like we're the enemy. Like we're millionaires. I don't want to be a millionaire. All I want to do is work my job as a fireman and retire with pride and in one piece, and call it a career."

Editorial: Why Michigan lawmakers should kill their own cushy health care perk
In his first State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to suggest that the Legislature demand more sacrifice from Michigan's public employees. ... Lawmakers will have a lot more credibility in this quest, however, if they examine their own pay and benefits before demanding concessions from other taxpayer-supported workers. First on the list of things that should go: the lifetime health care benefit Michigan legislators receive after only six years on the job.

Many cities, counties fast-track redevelopment projects
Cities and counties across California are putting more than $1 billion in redevelopment projects on the fast track in an apparent attempt to beat Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies. At least three cities - Los Angeles, Fremont, and Citrus Heights - approved projects in special meetings Friday and Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

The Liberal Agenda Backfires
... America's debate about government's proper size and purposes has proceeded against the backdrop of European disorders, such as rioting by French young people. Some of them, although they have not yet entered the labor market (unemployment is 25 percent among those under 25), are indignant that when they do, they will have to remain in it for two extra years because the retirement age has been raised to 62.

Vermont To Strengthen Government Transparency And Accountability
Governor Peter Shumlin and key lawmakers unveiled a comprehensive plan involving both the executive branch and the Vermont Legislature to ensure that access to government documents remains open and available to the public.

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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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