The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 11, 2011
A.M. Reading: High-speed rail; pension accounting rules; Pa.'s badge-toting secretary of health

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifWhat California has to show on high-speed rail -- pages of reports and a chorus of concerns
California is about to build the largest public-works project in the state's history: a system of high-speed, electric passenger trains. And even before a spade of dirt is turned, perhaps late next year, the state will have spent about $630 million. What does California have to show for it? Thousands of pages of strategies, studies and plans - and a chorus of concern over the California High-Speed Rail Authority's budget management and its ability to monitor an army of consultants. (Fresno Bee / Sacramento Bee)

Indiana governor revives agency mistakenly canceled
INDIANAPOLIS -- Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed an order restoring Indiana's largest state agency, the human services department, after it was accidentally eliminated due to a mistake in a new state law. (AP / Evansville Courier & Press)

GASB Gives Pitch on Pensions
WASHINGTON -- The Governmental Accounting Standards Board unveiled a pension accounting and reporting proposal Friday that would fundamentally alter how cash-strapped states and localities report pension liabilities and pose challenges for them. The so-called exposure drafts would, for the first time, require state and local governments to report unfunded pension liabilities on their balance sheets, creating "sticker shock" and potentially raising concerns from politicians, rating agencies, and others about how the liabilities will be funded in the future. (Bond Buyer)

CalPERS' CIO Joe Dear is on the go
As chief investment officer of the nation's largest public pension system, Joseph A. Dear always seems on the run. Running the $232.2 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, means attending lots of meetings, which might explain why Mr. Dear stays on point. There is a not a lot of room for chitchat when the next meeting is only minutes away. It's not that Mr. Dear can't share a laugh at a good joke, but it's clear he doesn't have a lot of time to waste as he goes about CalPERS' business. And it's no coincidence that Mr. Dear's hobbies include running. (Pensions & Investments)

Vibraphone stolen at final Furlough Friday concert
For the six musicians of the new music ensemble Citywater, it is clear that no good deed goes unpunished. That much became evident during the final concert of its Furlough Friday concert series last month when a vibraphone was stolen from the group. (Sacramento Bee)

New law, same hurdles for gay couples
Albany -- For same-sex couples, New York's new marriage legislation will open up a range of employment and tax benefits. But some benefits, thanks to a federal law called the Defense of Marriage Act, will remain off-limits. Human resource managers are sorting through what the new marriage law, which takes effect on July 24, will mean. (Albany Times-Union)

Nonunionized Pennsylvania government workers upset over paycheck imbalances
The paychecks of 13,600 nonunion and management state employees have remained virtually frozen since shortly after the recession began. (

Pa. secretary of health got himself a badge and a jacket
HARRISBURG - Stop! In the name of the secretary of health! Eli N. Avila, Gov. Corbett's secretary of health, has ordered up new blue windbreakers on the taxpayers' dime, with Department of Health emblazoned on the front and back. The windbreakers, for Avila and his executive staff, also display the state seal on a retractable flap. In all, the Health Department said, nine of the windbreakers have been ordered, at a cost to the state of $553.82. (The Philadelphis Inquirer)

Gov. Branstad expects fewer state worker layoffs
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says fewer state workers will be laid off than initially thought because of the state's budget crunch. (AP / KTTC)

For links to more news, views and video, check out The State Worker's Individurls page. To see our vast archive of searchable A.M. Reading headlines, go to Publish2.

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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


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