The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 19, 2012
A.M. Reading: Jerry Brown's reorg and iPhones; CalPERS' $250m loss; NH bill bans perfume; Congress's pension costs

Hat tip to blog users J, B and M for their unwavering dedication to flagging news and editorials for our morning roundups.

The State Worker: Will Jerry Brown's reorg plan fix California's bugs?
To understand how Gov. Jerry Brown wants to reorganize government, just look at an iPhone. (Sacramento Bee)

CalPERS discloses $250 million realty loss
CalPERS took a $250 million loss on a massive land deal as it continues to reposition its battered real estate portfolio, the pension fund said Wednesday. (Sacramento Bee)

Op-ed: Public unions: What's the big deal?
On Jan. 17, 1962, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988, bringing collective bargaining rights to most federal workers for the first time. ... For 20 years after Kennedy's order, public sector union rights were not controversial. To the contrary, they enjoyed bipartisan support -- even from conservatism's leading light, Ronald Reagan. Reagan, as governor of California, presided over the extension of collective bargaining rights to state and local workers in 1968. (Los Angeles Times)

CalPERS Pressures Apple on Director Elections (Market Watch / Wall Street Journal)

4 Atascadero State Hospital employees assaulted by patients Friday
Four employees at Atascadero State Hospital were attacked Friday, the hospital confirmed Tuesday. (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo presents New York state budget with no tax hike
ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday tried to turn his annual budget address into a kickoff for taming Albany's status quo of politics and special interests, which he said serves itself rather than taxpayers, or even children. ... He targeted powerful public employee unions in proposed overhauls of public education and public pensions, a fight that's popular in the polls. (Oneida Daily Dispatch)

Christie kills bill to cut off lobbyists' public benefits
New Jersey taxpayers will still fund public pensions for a group of private employees and lobbyists because of another disagreement between Democratic lawmakers and Governor Christie. The governor used a pocket veto this week to kill legislation that would have ended taxpayer-funded benefits for new employees at three advocacy organizations that were granted the perks in a long-overlooked law dating back to the 1950s. (The Record)

Lawmaker Wants to Ban State Workers from Wearing Perfume
... New Hampshire state representative Michele Peckham is sponsoring a bill which hopes to ban state employees who work with the public from wearing perfume. (KSEE News)

State worker severance packages scrutinized
Minnesota lawmakers today will begin looking into the issue of payments for unused sick and vacation time to retiring state employees. (Pioneer Press)

State hospital admissions up, length of stay down
State Hospital North in Orofino has seen a 50 percent increase in admissions in the last five years, yet its state funding has dropped 11 percent. (Lewiston Tribune)

Ark. governor open to ideas to fund pay raises
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday that he believes state employees deserve a pay raise in the coming year, but that he couldn't find money in the budget without taking away from vital services such as education and Medicaid. (AP / CBS Moneywatch)

Director's Blog: We Are the Government
We often hear that the federal government is too big, too wasteful, or simply "the problem rather than the solution." A recent Gallup poll indicates that fear of government may be at a near-record high, with 64 percent of Americans polled citing "big government" as the "biggest threat to the country." As an extension of this lack of public trust, federal employees are often portrayed as nameless, faceless bureaucrats who hide behind regulations and red tape. As the head of a government institute, I find this caricature of public service both painful and surreal because it has no overlap with my daily experience. (National Institute of Mental Health)

Less fear, more confidence among state workers
LANSING - One year ago, many state employees in mid-Michigan braced for deep wage cuts and layoffs from a newly elected Republican governor who vowed to balance the state's budget and restore its economy. Those cuts did not materialize, and during his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder gave no hint they were in store for the coming year. (Lansing State Journal)

State Workers Share More Cost-Saving Ideas with OR Legislature
SALEM, Ore. - Oregon's largest state employees' union on Wednesday issued an update of its "Moving Oregon Forward" report, offering lawmakers a new batch of ideas for saving money. (Public News Service)

Our View: Pension reform not an 'assault'
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposal was met Tuesday with the type of overreaction we've come to expect from unions representing state workers. We just wonder when, if ever, the unions are going to realize that the wages and benefits enjoyed by generations of state workers are simply unsustainable and that things need to change for both the long-term health of the state and its workforce. (Auburn Citizen)

Pension changes may be softened
Changes in South Carolina public worker pensions suggested Wednesday to a legislative panel may limit a requirement to stay employed until age 62 to new hires, while making annual cost-of-living increases dependent on finances. Those proposals -- less restrictive than suggested in December -- came as members of a House committee tweak a package intended to avert red ink. (The State)

Congress's Six-Figure Benefits Add to $674 Billion U.S. Pension Shortfall
Almost 15,000 federal retirees, including former leaders of Congress, a university president and a banker, are receiving six-figure pensions from a system that faces a $674.2 billion shortfall. (Bloomberg)

Prison privatization moves ahead
Privatization of state prisons took a leap forward in a Senate committee Wednesday despite worried warnings by correctional officers who said it would wreck morale in the ranks, jeopardize the futures of thousands of families and probably not save taxpayers any money. (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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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