The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 20, 2011
A.M. Reading: Court's budget crunch; Minn. close to reopening; Va. budget surplus

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifState budget cuts wallop San Francisco courts
The judicial system in San Francisco County is preparing to close 25 of its 63 courtrooms and lay off 200 employees, or 40 percent of its staff, as a result of deep budget cuts triggered by California state legislators. Katherine Feinstein, the court's presiding judge, says basic judicial responsibilities will be compromised because of what she calls an "unprecedented dismantling" of the system. She estimates that paying tickets could take hours, obtaining court records will take months, and divorces will take at least a year and a half, up from about five months now. (Stateline.org)

CalSTRS wants (no) change in anti-spiking bill
Two amendments pushed by the CalSTRS board would remove most current teachers from coverage by a bill aimed at curbing spiking, the manipulation of final pay or service credits to boost pensions. A pay cap would be changed to apply mainly to highly paid administrators, not teachers, and to cover new hires, not current employees. A limit on the types of pay used to calculate a pension also would be changed to apply only to new hires. (Calpensions)

Minnesota shutdown near an end
Minnesota is one signature away from reopening. (CNNMoney)

Public Employees Salaries Scrutinized by Think Tank
LAS VEGAS -- A new report is putting public employees salaries in the spotlight once again. Some say the size of salaries is tough to hear when private businesses are struggling. But government entities say the payouts are ultimately saving money. Tuesday, the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank put out the 2010 salaries for public employees. They say some of the numbers raise questions.

Grueling session yields tentative union contract
A marathon 26-hour bargaining session resulted Tuesday in a tentative contract agreement between Oregon state government and one of its largest employee unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75. (Statesman Journal)

Union files labor complaint over state worker e-mail ban
Oregon's largest state workers union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint regarding the state's move to restrict union use of agency e-mail while employees are without a contract. (Statesman Journal)

Democratic senator Hansen retains seat in recall attempt
Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay was the first of nine state senators to face a final recall election, and he easily survived Tuesday. Hansen won a lopsided victory over his Republican challenger, wind farm developer David VanderLeest of Green Bay, against whom Democrats and their allies have been hammering away on his personal and legal problems. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Virginia generates surplus of $311 million
RICHMOND -- Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced Tuesday that Virginia finished its fiscal year with a surplus of $311 million -- its second straight year with higher-than-expected revenue, even as other states continue to slash budgets. (Washington Post)

Despite reform, N.J. faces pension woes
TRENTON -- New Jersey's new pension reform will save state and local governments millions of dollars now and billions of dollars over the ensuing decades. But then there is the hard part: actually paying the pension contributions for nearly 800,000 state government employees and retirees. (Courier Post)

State Workers Funding Gap Grows to $8.3B
The gap between the retirement benefits Kansas has promised to pay teachers and government workers and the money it will have to keep those promises widened to $8.3 billion, in 2010, state pension plan actuaries reported Friday. (The Monitor)

State prepares to lay off hundreds if there's no deal on concessions
LANSING -- Hundreds of state workers could face layoffs as early as Oct. 1 under contingency plans being prepared by the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder if no deal is reached on employee concessions, officials said Tuesday. (Detroit Free Press)

Largest Pa. state worker union ratifies contract
HARRISBURG - The largest state government employees' union has a new contract. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Arbitrator: Quinn can't freeze out state workers on pay raises
SPRINGFIELD -- Bruce Springsteen may have gained 30,000 new fans in Illinois overnight, but don't count Gov. Pat Quinn as one of them. In a legal oddity, The Boss' lyrics were cited in a ruling Tuesday that blocked Quinn from withholding 2-percent pay hikes to unionized workers on the state payroll. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Editorial: A contract for hard times
The dog days of summer, in the bad days of state government, tended to be contentious times that brought out the unreasonable side of people in Albany. Budgets were hopelessly and needlessly late. Irresponsible promises were made. (Albany Times Union)

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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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