The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 1, 2011
A.M. Reading: Bearded Sikh starts prison job; the inscrutable Jerry Brown; Hawaii's liabilities jump

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifBearded Sikh Finally Allowed to Work in Calif. Prison
Trilochan Singh Oberoi, a bearded Sikh American, will finally begin working at Folsom State Prison in California Nov. 1, after a contentious six-year battle to gain employment there. (San Leandro India West)

Dan Walters: $20 million gift to California courts a big mistake
California's court system, which like all other state-supported activities is strapped for cash, is on the verge of making a big mistake. It's ready to accept a questionable $20 million donation for its very expensive and much-troubled computerized case management system. (Sacramento Bee)

Proposal for real pension reform
Who says Gov. Jerry Brown always kowtows to every desire of the public employee unions that helped get him elected? Nope - he just sometimes kowtows to them. But with last week's proposal for serious pension reform to help cure a potentially devastating long-term financial disease that could cripple California, Brown showed that once again that with him, always expect the unexpected.

California Unions Must Pitch in to Help Control Expenses: View
California state politics are often said to be as dysfunctional as Washington's. We'll soon see if the Golden State can rise above such defamation. Governor Jerry Brown proposed sweeping changes to state pensions last week in an effort to pull California out of a fiscal tailspin. If he can muster the political support necessary to wring concessions from the state's public unions, California could reclaim its stature as a model, rather than a warning, to other states. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Restaurants near Capitol cash in on political mingling
More than 500 times in the last three years, Chops restaurant - just steps from the doors of the Capitol - played host to a political occasion. (Sacramento Bee)

Cost estimate doubles for California high-speed rail project
Building California's high-speed rail project could cost $98.5 billion over 20 years, more than twice what was previously thought, according to a draft copy of a business plan obtained late Monday by The Bee. (The Sacramento Bee)

Teachers, state workers want raise before reform
South Carolina's teachers and state employees are willing to pay more to fix the retirement system -- but only if they get a raise first. (The Sun News)

State adjustment proves costly to Iowa retirees
Some former workers for the state of Iowa are facing big jumps in their supplemental insurance for health care. For some, the increases are more than $400 a month. But the state says nearly two-thirds of the retirees received premium increases of less than $100 per month. (Chicago Tribune)

Two dozen state workers to get pink slips
Nearly two dozen Illinois state workers will get pink slips today, becoming the first casualties in the bruising budget battle between Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly. (Pantagraph.com)

Chico City Council to consider budget deficit solutions tonight
The Chico City Council will consider lopping off at least nine city positions with an incentivized early retirement program during tonight's meeting. City administration plans to recommend the cost-saving plan to fill a $560,000 deficit created by the state's permanent diversion of vehicle license fees. ... Nine eligible employees expressed interest in the early retirement program, which could bump the city's CalPERS cost by $54,745 but save the city $875,345 in pay and benefits, making the estimated drop in costs $820,600 annually. (Chico Enterprise Record)

Hawaii State Liabilities Climb by 60 Percent in Two Years; Expert Calls the News 'Shocking'
The Hawaii state legislative auditor has released the 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which is a series of audited government statements that detail the financial condition of the state government. Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of the Institute for Truth in Accounting, called the state's liability in the report "shocking", particularly when it comes to the increase in costs for medical services for state employees. (Hawaii Reporter)

Collective Interest Vs Self Interest
The recent contract negotiations between a public union and New York state reflects all the elements of the relationship between government, the wealthy and the middle class that have given rise to the Occupy Wall St. movement nationwide in the form of an ambitious politician, the interests of the already well off, a union leadership eager to settle rather than fight for a shared sacrifice to address an economic problem which its members did not create and the people whose fate hangs in the balance culminates this week when the votes of union membership are counted. (OpEdNews.com)

At an impasse: SEIU wants to preserve longevity pay
It has taken four years of brutal economic decline, but some local public employee unions finally are changing their thinking when bargaining for compensation. They have realized they can't have it all, after all. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

What's the Matter with Ohio?
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R.) rallied Republicans in the state legislature to limit collective bargaining by public employees. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie (R.) coaxed a Democrat-led state legislature to increase public employees' share of their health-care and pension costs. In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R.) secured merit pay for public-school teachers. (National Review)

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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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