The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 9, 2011
A.M. Reading: Folsom prison riot investigation; expanding safety pensions; lawmakers 'pander' to unions

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifState starts investigation of prison riot, response in Folsom
A state prison investigation is looking into the cause of Wednesday's riot at California State Prison, Sacramento. Correctional officers used pepper spray and rubber projectiles and fired seven rifle rounds to quell the melee involving 150 maximum-security inmates about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday. (Sacramento Bee)

States expand lucrative pensions to more jobs
Special retirement benefits once reserved for police, firefighters and others with dangerous jobs are now being given to tens of thousands of state workers employed as park rangers, foresters, dispatchers, coroners, even highway laborers, museum guards and lifeguards. (USA Today)

Assembly will not appeal court order to release member budgets
The Assembly has decided not to appeal a Sacramento Superior Court judge's ruling requiring it to release member-by-member budgets and any changes made to them through the year. (Sacramento Bee)

Pension vote in Rhode Island shows changing political times
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island -- Michael Downey, a plumber at the University of Rhode Island and the president of this state's largest public employee union, considers Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin the face of the anti-labor movement he sees taking hold in state capitals around the country. But Downey thinks his own governor, Lincoln Chafee, runs a close second. (

Report: California's middle class shrinks to below 50 percent
Not even half of California's families are middle-class anymore as the recession and its aftermath widened the gap between rich and poor, according to a new report. Contra Costa Times)

Jobless insurance fraud yields jail term for ex-state employee
A former state employee was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in jail for her part in the theft of $90,000 from the state's unemployment insurance fund. (Sacramento Bee)

The Buzz: Unfilled job at California's Fair Political Practices Commission raises eyebrows
An unfilled job at California's Fair Political Practices Commission is raising eyebrows. The state ethics watchdog agency's most recent executive director, Roman Porter, announced in August that he would be leaving the post. Four months later, the commission has yet to appoint a new executive director, whose position is written into the state Political Reform Act. (Sacramento Bee)

EDITORIAL: Lawmakers pander on reforming public pensions
Gov. Jerry Brown showed up personally to pitch his 12-point pension plan before a joint Assembly- Senate Committee last week. The rare appearance underlines the importance of pension reform for the governor. (Fresno Bee)

234 mayors endorse Christie plan to alter public employee's sick leave and vacation benefits
As Gov. Chris Christie's office Thursday announced that a bipartisan group of 234 mayors support the governor's proposal to change how public employee sick leave and vacation pay is allotted, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) said the legislation is unconstitutional. (

Ban on benefits for domestic partners of state workers heads to Snyder
Legislation barring domestic partner benefits for public employees in Michigan is on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder, despite a dispute among backers of the measure about whether it applies to university employees. (Detroit Free Press)

State Workers Strike Deal With Ohio
Just days after Ohioans repealed a new law that cut the negotiating clout of public employee labor unions, one of those unions has reached a tentative agreement with the state of Ohio on a new three-year contract. Details now from statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen. (WCPN)

Laid off state workers heading back to work
SPRINGFIELD | State officials are slowly cleaning up the fallout from Gov. Pat Quinn's now-averted decision to lay off nearly 2,000 employees. Lawmakers last week faced down the governor on his threat to close seven state facilities, but the legislative action didn't come soon enough to stop the layoffs of nearly two dozen workers at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. (

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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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