The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 30, 2012
A.M. Reading: CA labor's 'high-stakes battle'; CalPERS' 'headwind; NY, TN propose civil service changes

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifHigh-stakes labor battle coming to California
SACRAMENTO -- The raging battle over the political and economic clout of labor unions is headed west to California. The state's powerful labor groups have anxiously witnessed union rights and benefits being gutted in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. Now, unions in California are girding for an all-out war over a ballot initiative that would curb their ability to raise political cash. (Mercury News)

Jerry Brown says cap-and-trade fees will fund high-speed rail
Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview airing in Los Angeles today that California's high-speed rail project will cost far less than the state's current estimate of nearly $100 billion and that environmental fees paid by carbon producers will be a source of funding. ... Brown has also proposed changes to reduce pension costs, and he suggested he may take that measure to the ballot, too, if the Legislature does not act. (Sacramento Bee)

NY: Cuomo Seeks Civil Service Law Changes
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is quietly seeking more leeway to hire and transfer state employees outside of a competitive process, a move unions say would weaken civil service rules designed to prevent patronage. (Wall Street Journal)

Costa Mesa leaders volunteer to pay 39 percent of their pension costs
The top leaders for the City of Costa Mesa have volunteered to pay 39% of their pension costs--the highest rate possible--saying they need to set the example of contributing their full retirement share to help ensure the city's finances are sustainable. The employee contribution will be one of the highest in California for public workers. (Public CEO)

Brown ordered firing of regulator who took hard line on oil firms
Reporting from Sacramento--Late last year, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed for a top state regulator to ease key requirements for companies seeking to tap California's oil. The official balked. (Los Angeles Times)

Pension earnings dip amid gloomy forecasts
The nation's two largest public pension funds last week reported slim annual investment earnings, CalPERS 1.1 percent and CalSTRS 2.3 percent, as experts continue to say hitting their long-term earnings target, 7.75 percent, will be difficult. ... Why experts think this is a "low return environment" was explained by Pension Consulting Alliance, a CalPERS and CalSTRS adviser, in a report in October to the Rhode Island state pension fund, which was overhauled by legislation in November. "Factors that provided a tailwind in the past are expected to present a headwind," said the PCA report by Allan Emkin. (Calpensions)

California Teachers Association backs Brown's tax plan
The California Teachers Association officially agreed Sunday to back Gov. Jerry Brown's multibillion-dollar tax plan, which should provide the governor hefty financial support for his fall campaign. (Sacramento Bee)

The Buzz: Nicolas Berggruen's Think Long to back California Forward fund's ballot proposal
An independent committee backed by billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen says it will support another group's ballot proposal that would make major changes to California's budget and governance processes. (Sacramento Bee)

WI: Thompson the governor touted collegial work with unions
Sometimes it's hard to figure out who the real Tommy Thompson is. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

TN: Gov. Bill Haslam to give second State of the State address
As Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam prepares to deliver his second State of the State address this evening, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are laying out their wish lists for the upcoming budget year. ... Haslam will unveil his full budget plan with the speech but he already has given a broad outline of his agenda ... The proposals include cuts in the inheritance tax and the sales tax on groceries, changing civil service rules for state workers and changing teacher pay and average class size rules. (The Tennessean)

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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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