The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 6, 2011
A.M. Reading: Government sheds jobs; pensions for all; Conn. workers lie, collect aid

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifPain in the Public Sector
Buried in the relatively positive numbers contained in the November jobs report was some very bad news for those who work in the public sector. There were 20,000 government workers laid off last month, by far the largest drop for any sector of the economy, mostly from states, counties and cities. (New York Times)

Op-Ed: Guaranteed pensions for all Americans [The Reply]
... Understandably, taxpayers are weary after years of budget shortfalls and bitter political battles over their money. But public servants are the wrong target. (Los Angeles Times)

Editorial: By cleaning up mess, Guard restores honor
It's not pretty or painless, but holding people to account is absolutely necessary for the California National Guard to restore its honor and regain public trust. (Sacramento Bee)

Editorial: Officials set right tone with pension concession
Back in October, Sacramento city's charter officers - City Clerk Shirley Concolino, City Attorney Eileen Teichert and City Treasurer Russell Fehr - volunteered to pay the employee portion of their retirement costs. Previously, the city had picked up that payment, as it does either in total or in part for all city employees. (Sacramento Bee)

NM projects extra revenue for next year's budget
SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico's Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democratic-controlled Legislature will have about $250 million available for budget increases and to potentially allow for tax cuts in the upcoming fiscal year, according to an updated revenue forecast issued Monday. ... State workers and educators started paying an extra 1.75 percent of their salaries for their pensions in July, but those retirement fund contributions will drop -- forcing the state to spend an extra $50 million -- starting in July 2012 unless the Legislature approves a change in law. (AP / Bloomberg Businessweek)

Greenhut: California's Public Pension Disaster
As the pension and health-care benefit crisis sweeps across the nation, some states are seriously dealing with these multibillion-dollar problems that threaten public services and treasuries. And other states remain in deep denial. California, to no one's surprise, is moving stridently in the wrong direction. (Reason)

Pension fight docks in Newport Beach
Newport Beach's public employee unions and city officials normally keep quiet about contract disputes -- a more restrained, "Newport" way of doing business. Not this time around. As police, firefighter and lifeguard contracts expire at the end of the month, city officials have asked employees to contribute more to their pension funds, and unions are striking back publicly. (Daily Pilot)

Lehman Picks New Board as It Seeks Liquidation Plan Approval
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which will ask a judge today to approve its $65 billion liquidation plan, named a new board of seven directors that includes two former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partners. ... Lehman's senior bondholders would recover 21.1 cents on the dollar under the new plan, compared with 21.4 cents under the firm's previous proposal. The bondholder group including Paulson and the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, filed its own liquidation plan in April that would have paid bondholders 25.4 cents on the dollar. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Lawsuit seeks to invalidate 2 key Ore. Supreme Court decisions for state pension benefits
SALEM, Ore. -- A Bend attorney has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate two Oregon Supreme Court decisions that have limited efforts to cut pension benefits for public employees. (AP / The Republic)

Report: N.D. state workers paid least
North Dakota paid its state employees less on average than any other state in 2010, according to a new report released Friday. The average 2010 payroll per state employee in North Dakota was $33,895, according to analysis of recently released U.S. Census of Governments data by the Center for Governmental Research. (Jamestown Sun)

Office space: State aims to save money by consolidating
LANSING -- State officials are working on a plan to save millions of dollars on leases by putting more workers into state-owned buildings. In the last 10 years, the state has shed close to 20% of its workers, but hasn't made similar reductions in its office space. What's more, use of laptops, cell phones and other mobile technology means far fewer state employees need their own office space. (Detroit Free Press)

What's the price of state, local government?
The average Topeka resident paid more than $2,200 toward the salaries of state and local public employees this year. That number changes, depending on the school district and when including the roughly 2,400 employees who didn't have a yearly salary listed in records requested by The Topeka Capital-Journal. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

Public Pension Changes Could be Costly
A new estimate from the state's public retirement system shows a change in benefits could prove costly. Earlier this fall, lawmakers asked the retirement system to run some numbers. They wanted to know how much it would cost employers- that's the state, cities and towns - if New Hampshire went from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. (New Hampshire Public Radio)

Conn. auditors reviewing post-Irene food aid
HARTFORD, Conn.-- A second Connecticut agency is looking into allegations revealed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that some state workers may have been among scores of state residents who received federal food aid after Tropical Storm Irene, even though they made too much money to qualify for the program. (AP / Boston Globe)

Storm Aid Fraud Is Stealing From The Poor
Allegations that state employees collected federal disaster aid by lying about their income after Tropical Storm Irene in August are sickening. (Hartford Courant)

Employees choosing 'wellness' plan option
Early results from PEBB's 2012 open enrollment directly contradict a couple of predictions made about state worker response to the new surcharges contained in the health plan. (Statesman Journal)

Fla. Gov. goes slowly on more changes to pension
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Heading into a crucial election year, Florida Gov. Rick Scott won't be pushing any further changes to the state's massive $100 billion plus pension plan. (AP / Miami Herald)

Officials put state's 'checkbook' online
Massachusetts residents who want to find out how their tax dollars are being spent will now have an easier time rummaging through the state's checkbook. (AP / Boston Herald)

Bill Cotterell: It's back to Career Service for some state workers
It's been 10 years since Gov. Jeb Bush shook up the state-employment system with this sweeping "Service First" initiatives. (Tallahassee Democrat)

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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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