The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 26, 2011
Court grills both sides in 'special funds' furlough debate

Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgIf you're a furlough lawsuit junkie (and you know who you are) the latest twist in SEIU Local 1000 v. Schwarzenegger is tailor-made for you.

Last week, San Francisco's 1st District Court of Appeal revived debate in a case that appeared was headed for a ruling. It's one of three lower court decisions that the Schwarzenegger administration lost and appealed -- and now carried on by Gov. Jerry Brown -- to overturn a trial court decision that so-called "special fund" departments should have been exempt from furloughs.

The governor has already won one of the appeals, but if the unions win at least one of the other two, it's likely the whole thing will go to the state Supreme Court. Hundreds of millions of dollars in back pay and interest are at stake.

Last week the 1st District Court vacated an earlier order that put SEIU on a path for a ruling. It ordered attorneys for the union and the state to gear up for oral arguments that must address a total of 17 legal questions. Many probe how to define a "special fund" department. Others go to earlier administration arguments about gubernatorial furlough authority.

On Monday the court set June 15 at 9:30 a.m. for the debate.

Here are the questions it put to both sides:

For the Governor:
(1) Do you abandon the claim that the judgment should be reversed because the trial court failed to stay the action based on the doctrine of exclusive concurrent jurisdiction?
(2) Do you abandon the claim that the furlough program is proper under Government Code section 19851? In other words, do you agree that this statute is irrelevant to the validity of the furlough program?
(3) Do you abandon the claim that the furlough program can be justified by the Governor's authority under article V, section 1 of the California Constitution?

For SEIU:
(1) Do you agree that Government Code section 19851 is irrelevant to the validity of the furlough program?
(2) Is your action against the 69 defendant state agencies named in the original petition or the 64 defendants named in the first amended petition?
(3) Do you concede that if a defendant state agency is the subject of an item of appropriation in the 2008 and 2009 Budget Acts, that defendant's participation in the furlough program is governed by Professional Engineers in California Government v. Schwarzenegger (2010) 50 Cal.4th 989?
(4) If your answer to Question (3) is No, do you concede that if a defendant is the subject of an item of appropriation in the 2008 and 2009 Budget Acts, and that defendant also has borrowable funds, that defendant's participation in the furlough program is governed by Professional Engineers?
(5) How is it to be determined or established that a defendant was in fact the recipient of borrowed special funds?

For the Governor and SEIU:
(1) If one or more of the defendants is the subject of an item of appropriation in the 2008 and 2009 Budget Acts, and receives funds from a continuing appropriation that is not mentioned in the Budget Acts, is that defendant's participation in the furlough program governed by Professional Engineers?
(2) How is it to be determined or established that a defendant receives funds from a continuing appropriation?
(3) What is your view of the conclusion of Veronica Chung-Ng, based on her declaration (AA 1434-1444), that only 29 of the defendants "receive a portion of their budgets from the General Fund" to "support [their] state operations"?
(4) The spreadsheet attached to the Chung-Ng declaration (AA 1440-1444) indicates that, with very few exceptions, the defendant state agencies compensate their employees with funds appropriated by the Legislature in the Budget Act or other 'borrowable" funds for purposes of "payroll." What is the significance, if any, of this fact for this action?
(5) Are the facts set forth in the spreadsheet inconsistent in any way with Ms. Chung-Ng's declaration?
(6) Can we infer from the record before us, and does it matter, whether defendant state agencies that have received "items of appropriation" under the Budget Acts compensate their employees exclusively with such funds?
(7) Our review of the 2008 and 2009 Budget Acts indicates that 59 of the 64 defendants named in the first amended petition have items of appropriation, as set forth in the attached appendix. Do you agree?
(8) What is your view as to how many of the agencies listed in Ms. Chung-Ng's declaration have "borrowable" funds?
(9) Do the recent decisions in California Medical Assn. v. Brown (2011) 193 Cal.App.4th 1449, California Attorneys, etc. v. Brown (2011) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ [2011 WL 1679049], and Union of American Physicians & Dentists v. Brown (2011) ___ Cal.App.4th ___ [2011 WL 1836662] have any relevance to this appeal?

IMAGE: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



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.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.

Categories


October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives