The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 5, 2012
A.M. Reading: Pension reform road map; Atascadero workers attacked; free Cornhusker football tickets targeted

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifThe State Worker: Pension reform debate is about to heat up
The next few weeks will draw the lines more sharply in the 2012 debate over public employee pensions. (Sacramento Bee)

3 more Atascadero State Hospital employees attacked by patients
Patients have attacked three employees at Atascadero State Hospital since Friday, the hospital confirmed Wednesday. (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

Texas' failure to fund mental health treatment leaves hundreds stranded in jails around the state
Nearly four years ago, "Sam's" paranoia had grown so intense that he believed spies followed him in the shadows everywhere he went. His house, car, motorcycle, workplace, were all bugged, he believed. "I was in a very bad place, psychologically," said Sam, who asked that his name not be used for this story, by phone from the Kerrville State Hospital last month. "I thought everyone was after me." (Current)

Editorial: Transparency and the state pension system
If you want to know how much a Nevada government worker is paid, all you have to do is ask the employing agency. It's a public record, and rightfully so. You're paying that salary. Taxpayers have an undeniable interest in knowing exactly how public dollars are spent. It follows, then, that citizens should be able to find out how much a retired Nevada government worker collects in pension benefits. ... But for years, PERS declared such information off-limits. The agency held that state law, which clearly embraces transparency over secrecy, protected the identities of beneficiaries and what they're paid. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Clients Are Preparing to Retire, But Now Their Benefits Are Cut
When Rick Scott, the disgraced former CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, won election as governor of Florida in 2010, he began making good on a campaign promise to slash the size and cost of government in a state that has been hard hit by the recession and collapsing home prices. Part of his plan, a reduction in state and county government workers' pension and health care benefits, was approved for the most part by the state legislature in May. (Bank Investment Consultant)

Bill aimed at cutting football tickets, other perks
A state lawmaker wants to end the practice of state agencies getting free tickets to University of Nebraska football games and other events in return for buying radio advertising on the Husker Sports Network. (Lincoln Journal Star)

Deficits, pension weigh on IL spending; Medicaid eyed for cuts
The arithmetic behind Gov. Pat Quinn's first budget proposal of the new year is grim.
Illinois will be facing an $800 million deficit within three years, despite tax revenue projected to grow by more than $1 billion a year. Illinois' fiscal reality is bleak, said Kelly Kraft, the governor's budget spokeswoman. ... The majority of the additional spending will be on public employee pensions. Quinn's own numbers project an $818 million deficit by 2015, even after holding spending flat on Medicaid, elementary and high school funding, and state government services. Illinois' pension payment jumps $1.1 billion in fiscal 2013, from $4.2 billion this year to $5.3 billion. By 2015, Illinois will be making an annual pension payment of $5.9 billion. (Illinois Statehouse News)

Noll: Cap spending, no new programs, higher state retirement age
State Senate candidate Gray Noll said Wednesday he would like to cap how much the General Assembly can spend, he would oppose any new programs until state debts are paid, and he'd like to push back the retirement age for new state workers. (Springfield State Journal-Register)

Vermont state employees plan Waterbury rally
State employees who used to work at the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury (and now work all over the place) plan a rally for Saturday to call for a return to site of the state's largest office complex, nearly empty since Tropical Storm Irene. (Burlington Free Press)

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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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