The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 11, 2012
A.M. Reading: Pension campaign's new phase; state workers go to US Supreme Court; Okla. bill strips job protections

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifPension overhaul backers need campaign cash, bash Kamala Harris
The effort to place a public pension overhaul before California voters this November has moved into a new and challenging phase. (Sacramento Bee)

Maryland man's lawsuit over sick leave is being considered by the US Supreme Court
WASHINGTON -- A man who sued the state of Maryland after allegedly being fired for trying to take a 10-day medical leave from his state job will have his case heard Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the outcome could affect whether state workers nationwide can sue in similar situations. (AP/Washington Post)

US Supreme Court hears California union political spending case
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case about political spending by the union that represents California state workers. (KPCC)

MIX: Government employees' free speech on trial
From Ohio to Wisconsin to California, state budget battles over extravagant union privileges grabbed headlines and flooded airwaves throughout 2011. This year, however, the fight to restrain public-sector union bosses has shifted to a new venue. Tuesday, the Supreme Court weighs arguments about the limits of union officials' power to spend compulsory union dues on politics. (Washington Times)

CalPERS role in preventing Vallejo pension cuts
Were Vallejo officials pushed away from trying to cut pensions during bankruptcy by fear of a long and costly legal battle with deep-pocketed CalPERS, promised by attorneys representing the giant pension fund? (Calpensions)

California controller says December revenues missed mark
California missed its December revenue target by $1.4 billion due to weak income tax totals, closing the first half of the fiscal year down $2.5 billion compared to the budget enacted in June, according to state Controller John Chiang. (Sacramento Bee)

Cities pick up $35 million of employees' pension tab
In theory, local government employees must contribute a portion of their salary toward their pensions. In practice, local governments pay some or all of those contributions on behalf of tens of thousands of employees, effectively adding to their pay. In 2010, cities in the Sacramento region made about $35 million in pension payments on behalf of their employees, according to new data from the state controller's office. (Sacramento Bee)

State government moves to paperless payroll
State government payroll has gone paperless in a move that the Governor's Office said will save taxpayers more than $60,000 annually. (Northern Colorado Business Report)

Two Wis. employees file amicus favoring bargaining reform
MADISON, Wis. -- Two Wisconsin public employees have filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Gov. Scott Walker's reform of collective bargaining procedures. The reform protects the Right to Work for most Wisconsin public workers and bans automatic deductions for union dues. (Legal Newsline)

Governor recommends $2.66 billion budget
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced Monday that even though state revenues are expected to grow by more than 5 percent in fiscal 2013, he does not plan on returning funds that were cut from state agencies last year. (Idaho Mountain Express and Guide)

Washington and the states: a year of uncertainty and foreboding
A long siege of deadlock and dysfunction in Washington has left states frustratingly unclear what to expect from the federal government in the coming year. About the only thing they know for sure is that it is not going to be a year of generosity. In fact, it's likely to be quite the opposite. (Stateline.org)

TIETJEN: False claims overshadow progress in bargaining pension reform
Regarding The Bee's Dec. 30 editorial "Lockyer, Chiang must nail down pension data": Public pensions must be affordable, but the sky is not falling. In fact, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office says pensions are among the smallest and slowest growing costs in state government, making up less than 3 percent of the budget. Far bigger and more pressing are corporate tax loopholes that cost the treasury tens of billions. (Modesto Bee)

Editorial: Outdated state boards need to retire gracefully
Gov. Jerry is proposing this year to eliminate the California Commission on the Status of Women. As he said in last year's budget message, the commission's "statutory goals are worthy," but given the state's restrained resources, "this reduction reflects the need for government to focus on its core functions." (Sacramento Bee)

Quinn wants pension reform this year
Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday he will jump into the fight over how to reform Illinois' pension system. (The State Journal-Register)

State leads in government job cutting
Wisconsin shed a larger share of state government jobs than any other U.S. state in the second quarter of last year, according to the most accurate and comprehensive data that exists, released Tuesday. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Proposal targets job protection for state employees
A bill proposed by a Republican Tulsa lawmaker would eliminate employment protections for nearly 25,000 state workers. Sen. Dan Newberry's Senate Bill 1046 says employees shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. (Tulsa World)

Conservative group: Nevada senator's resignation from state job doesn't nullify suit
The resignation of a Nevada senator from his state job as a computer technician for a regulatory agency doesn't nullify a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of public workers serving in the Legislature, a conservative think tank argued Tuesday in a new legal filling. (AP/The Republic)

State workers increased in 2011, despite looming budget cuts
Even as thousands of Texas state employees were losing their jobs last year to offset an expected $27 billion budget shortfall, numerous state agencies and higher education institutions ended up with more workers in 2011 than the Legislature authorized. (The American-Statesman)

7 state workers win big in SC lottery
Seven South Carolina state employees in Conway claimed a $200,000 prize playing Powerball, according to Holli Armstrong with the S.C. Education Lottery. (The Herald)

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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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