The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 29, 2012
California game wardens reality show to launch second season

The National Geographic Channel's "Wild Justice," a reality TV show about California game wardens, has wrapped up shooting its second season and has the network's commitment for a third, according to a post on The Outdoor Wire.

The new season debuts Mar. 11. We've embedded a clip from Season 1. For others, click here.

February 29, 2012
AM Reading: Lawmakers' hypocrisy; Stockton's path to bankruptcy; NY pension reform; FL legislators' insurance perk

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifDan Walters: California legislators show their hypocrisy over hunting issue
Dan Richards, who chairs the California Fish and Game Commission, is under fire in the Capitol because he killed a mountain lion in Idaho and posed with his trophy for a picture that was later published on a hunting publication website. Forty Democratic legislators signed a letter to Richards saying he should resign. "Your actions raise serious questions about whether you respect the laws of the people of California and whether you are fit to adequately enforce those laws," the lawmakers told Richards. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom later joined the chorus. So let's get this straight. (Sacramento Bee)

Viewpoints: Pension costs are crushing local governments
Last week, Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research and California Common Sense released a report that confirmed what Californians have come to realize, yet many leaders still deny. From Stockton to San Diego, government pension costs are crushing local governments. (Sacramento Bee)

NV: Judge dismisses separation-of-powers lawsuit
A Carson City district judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a conservative think tank that challenged the constitutionality of public workers serving in the Legislature. (AP / Las Vegas Sun)

February 28, 2012
State Compensation Insurance Fund OKs staff bonus program

Despite an unprecedented downsizing that has cut jobs and emptied out agency offices around California, the State Compensation Insurance Fund's board of directors has OK'd a new incentive bonus program for employees.

It's not clear how much this will cost State Fund, a quasi-private state agency that provides workers' compensation insurance to businesses, but employees could receive up to 10 percent of their base pay depending on how well they perform. None of the bonus money would come from tax dollars, since State Fund operates solely on policyholders' premiums and investments.

The board approved the Performance Award Program on Feb. 17, about seven weeks after 971 employees in danger of layoffs took an unprecedented severance package that paid them to leave by the end of last year and give up their preferential rights to other state government jobs. The so-called "transition packages" cost State Fund about $30 million.

Even after those employees left, another 700 fund jobs remained on the chopping block as part of a multiyear plan to save $200 million by axing outdated jobs, shuttering offices and consolidating operations.

We asked fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen how the new employee bonus program lined up with the agency's push to cut costs. She responded by forwarding an email to staff that explains the program as "an appropriate investment in strengthening and accelerating our transition to a performance-based culture." (Click here to read the entire email.)

The bonuses are contingent on negotiations with union representatives, according to the State Fund staff memo. Here's the board's agenda item concerning the new bonus program:
State Compensation Insurance Fund bonus item on BOD's Feb. 17 agenda

February 28, 2012
Internal memo leaks name of Jerry Brown's next personnel director

Thumbnail image for 101022 mail image.jpg3:04 p.m.: Updated with further comments from Ron Yank.

According to an internal email to Department of Personnel Administration staff, Julie Chapman will replace Ron Yank as DPA director.

The source of the memo obtained by The Bee and verified by DPA: Yank himself.

February 28, 2012
See what money Professional Engineers in California Government's PAC received and spent in 2011

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

Professional Engineers in California Government's political action committee took in $1.3 million in contributions last year and spent $534,000. Of that, about $468,000 went to political campaigns and causes, including a total $180,000 to the California Democratic Party. Blanning Baker & Baker Associates, the union's principal consulting firm, received $34,500 with consultants Aaron Read & Associates representing the PAC's third-largest expense, $17,500.

PECG represents about 13,000 engineering professionals who design and inspect state highways, bridges and other construction projects.

As you look through the table below, remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations given to political campaigns and causes. Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet open tables with more detailed information of the union's political spending.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.

February 27, 2012
See what California Department of Forestry Firefighters spent on political activities in 2011

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

California Department of Forestry Firefighters' PAC took in contributions of about $313,500 last year and spent a little more than $290,000 on political activities. Like many state employee unions, CDFF wrote its biggest checks to the California Democratic Party ($100,000 total) and consultants ($38,000 to Marketplace Communications, a media relations arm of Sacramento-based Aaron Read & Associates).

As you look through the table below, remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations given to political campaigns and causes. Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet open tables with more detailed information of the union's political spending.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.

February 24, 2012
John Chiang: California needs to pay down retiree health costs

Controller John Chiang today urged the state to scrape up at least a little extra cash to pay down state retiree health and dental benefit costs, which his latest commissioned report pegs at $62.1 billion over 30 years.

The figure, a snapshot of the unfunded health obligations on June 30,2011, represents a 5 percent increase over $59.9 billion identified a year earlier. Actuaries with Gabriel Roeder Smith & Co. had expected an even higher number, but CalPERS' push to trim health costs through a variety of programs, fewer and less expensive claims and lower-than-anticipated use of services have trimmed expenses.

For the most part, the state is covering those costs year to year, paying retiree health bills as they come up. A more prudent course, Chiang said, is to treat the long-term benefit expenses like the state treats pensions: set aside money now, invest it and then use the returns on investments to defray future retiree medical and dental costs.

"Even slight amounts set aside will help lessen the impact on future generations, and ensure that we fulfill our responsibilities to the state workforce and our taxpayers," Chiang said in a press release.

February 24, 2012
The Bee's state worker pay database now upgraded and faster

120224 Steinberg pay.JPG

The Bee's state worker pay database has been upgraded with features that give the information more context and provide it more quickly.

The data now include state employee wage histories from calendar 2007 through the end of last year. Clicking on an individual's name pulls up their historical wages graphically in the context of the average pay in their department. Scrolling over the data points in the graph reveals specific info.

The information on the site shows up more quickly than before because The Bee's web developers streamlined its layout and used a Google product that loads faster.

The screen capture above shows the wage history of one elected state worker in the Legislature. Click here to open the pay database page.

February 24, 2012
Ron Yank explains why he's leaving Jerry Brown's administration

Thumbnail image for 110816 Ron Yank.JPGAs we reported earlier this week, Department of Personnel Administration Director Ron Yank is leaving his post at the end of this month. The news -- which he spread himself in a series of personal calls and emails -- surprised labor leaders and state managers.

Late last month I asked Yank how he was enjoying his job as California's labor relations point man. "I love it," he said, and told me that he had no plans to leave.

I asked him that question nearly every time that we spoke over the last year. Yank didn't need the money, having retired from a long and successful career in labor law representing the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and other unions.

And I always wondered whether Yank, a marathon runner who admits to flashes of temper and salty language when it gets his point across, was suited to head a bureaucracy.

The DPA director sits at what can be an uncomfortable intersection between politics, law and finance. The job requires offering carrots and sticks to other department heads and labor leaders and walking a narrow path between the administrative independence that gives the office power while still executing the governor's agenda.

Ron Yank never struck me as a guy who was keen on asking for permission. His exit illustrated that fact. Instead of waiting for the governor's office to announce his departure and name a successor, he broke with protocol, picked up the phone and started calling union leaders to tell them he was leaving at the end of the month. The news quickly spread.

On Wednesday, Yank said that despite all of his assurances to the contrary, he took the post with the understanding he would leave after one year. That was all the time he was willing to take away from his family in the Bay Area, he said.

He didn't want to make that known for fear of hobbling his effectiveness. "If I'd been a lame duck, we couldn't have accomplished half the things we accomplished," he said as we drank coffee at a restaurant near DPA's offices on S Street.

What follows is an email to DPA staff with the subject line, "Why is Ron leaving his job after only one year?" Yank issued it a few hours after news of his exit surfaced on Tuesday. We're publishing it here after confirming its authenticity with DPA.

As of this morning, the Brown administration still hasn't issued an official statement about Yank's departure or named a successor.

February 23, 2012
Steinberg: GOP 'clever' to co-opt Jerry Brown's pension plan, but 'cut-and-paste' bills lack analysis

During his weekly chat with reporters this morning, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, talked about the Republicans co-opting Gov. Jerry Brown's 12-point pension reform plan. (For our analysis, check out today's State Worker column.)

Here are quotes and observations from this morning's get together gathered by The Bee's Senate beat reporter Torey Van Oot:

"I thought that was clever."

"I'm glad that they are entering the debate. It is important to point out that when we last voted on pension reform in 2010, the rollback of SB 400, 40 percent of the Senate Republicans did not vote for that pension reform in large part because it affected public safety," said Steinberg, displaying a printout of the vote.

"I'm glad that they're in the debate, and we are going to do exactly what I said we are going to do. We are going to finish the work of our conference committee. We are going to produce a conference report that addresses all of the governor's 12 points, and we're going to bring this to a conclusion here in a way that represents real reform and at the same time maintains the strength of affordable defined benefit plans."

Steinberg said while the governor's plan includes the right elements, Republicans haven't done much analysis on their "cut-and-paste work" to introduce the package drafted by the governor.

"I thought it was a very clever political move. I complimented Bob (Huff) on it."

February 23, 2012
Democrats want to extend guaranteed retirement savings to private sector

120223 de Leon 20110621 .JPGNew legislation unveiled this morning aims to build a sort of CalPERS-for-all retirement savings system that the measure's author says could cover an estimated 7 million working Californians in the private sector.

Senate Bill 1234 by Los Angeles Democratic Sen. Kevin de León would require businesses with five or more employees to enroll them in a new "Personal Pension" defined benefit program or offer an alternative employer-sponsored plan.

De León, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other political and labor leaders who touted the measure noted that public discourse has focused on public employee pensions.

The press event came one day after Republicans co-opted Brown's 12-point pension plan and offered it up as their own legislation. When asked if the Democrats were offering the bill hoping to relieve pressure on them to curb public pensions, Steinberg said, "Absolutely not."

The majority party is "committed to public pension reform. We're going to be analytical about it. We're not running away from it," Steinberg said, calling the de León bill the private-sector "bookend" to public pension reform.

"I hear a lot about 'pension envy,'" said Democratic Assemblyman Warren Furutani, who is co-chairing a joint public pension committee. And while many critics of the current system, including Gov. Jerry Brown, have called for reforms, Furutani said he sees many of those efforts as a misguided attempt to spread the private sector's retirement insecurity in the name of fairness.

"This bill turns that argument on its head," Furutani said.

Still, de León said his bill isn't intended to provide government-level benefits for the private sector. "It's a supplement," he said. "It's not a panacea."

The personal pension system's investments would be professionally managed by CalPERS or another contracted organization, de León said. Employees would contribute about 3 percent of their pay through a payroll deduction. Employers would not be required to provide matching contributions.

The fund would be managed "very conservatively," de León said, with investments tied to US Treasury bond rates.

Treasuries, considered among the safest investment vehicles, offer roughly half the 7.75 percent rate of return that CalPERS assumes on its investments.

February 23, 2012
AM Reading: Republicans support Jerry Brown's pension plan; San Jose workers oppose pension change plan; new twist on private prisons

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifThe State Worker: GOP backs Jerry Brown's plan on pensions
Last year, Republicans in the state Legislature rejected Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's offer to put public pension reform on a statewide ballot. On Wednesday, those same Republicans introduced a package of pension rollbacks for the November ballot written by ... Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. (Sacramento Bee)

UC Davis officials sued over pepper spraying
Three months after being pepper sprayed or allegedly roughed up by UC Davis campus police during an Occupy demonstration, 19 students and alumni Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit claiming that their free speech and assembly rights were violated in the controversial incident. (Los Angeles Times)

Finance chief Matosantos pleads no contest in drunken-driving case
California Finance Director Ana Matosantos pleaded no contest Tuesday to driving over the legal limit for alcohol last year in downtown Sacramento. (Sacramento Bee)

February 22, 2012
Republicans introduce Jerry Brown's pension reform plan

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's 12-point public pension reform plan has some new supporters: Republicans.

GOP lawmakers told reporters this morning that they are introducing Brown's reform plan as legislation, exactly as he wrote it.

"We haven't changed one comma, one period or one word," Senate Republican leader Bob Huff said during a Capitol press conference to announce the party's plan.

He called on Democrats to join his party to enact four measures that together would put the plan to voters as a state constitutional amendment and alter pension law for both state and local governments.

The Republican's move comes after Republican-backed California Pension Reform suspended its cash-starved campaign to put pension reform on the November ballot. One plan that the organization was considering would have closely mirrored Brown's, including the centerpiece idea to put future state and local workers into hybrid pension schemes that blend a smaller traditional guaranteed pension with a more volatile 401(k)-style component.

Lawmakers could have donated to the campaign. When asked if any of the legislators had been approached for contributions or supported the initiative campaign before its demise, Huff brushed the question aside.

February 22, 2012
Court sides with CCPOA, rejects Don Novey bankruptcy plan

Thumbnail image for 110623 Novey file photo 2002.JPGA Sacramento bankruptcy court last week rejected Don Novey's second amended bankruptcy plan, saying that the proposal lacks sufficient documentation to allow less-than-full payment to his debtors.

The former president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association last summer offered a bankruptcy plan to pay back a portion of the $600,000 Novey owed against $355,000 in assets. The plan would have let Novey skip most of the $20,000 he owes to CCPOA, money intended to settle a messy dispute over allegations he breached his consulting contract with the union.

Union attorney Barry Spitzer has vigorously challenged Novey's bankruptcy plan, implying that he and his wife, Carol, have hidden some of their assets and understated the value of others to shield them from creditors.

For an example, you can read Spitzer's Sept. 21 cross examination of Novey in the "Exhibits in Support of Motion to Confirm Debtor's Second Amended Plan" that we've embedded below and linked here. Scroll down to PDF page 70.

(You'll find an interesting bit of the testimony that addresses Novey's split from the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association. When Spitzer asked why Novey received severance pay from the union's foundation in June of 2011, Novey said, "Their president thought it would be best that we part ways.")

The State Worker reached Novey by cellphone this morning and asked if he had a comment about the case.

"I didn't open the floodgates," Novey said. When asked if he thought CCPOA had a vendetta against him or was focused on forcing him to give up a Scottsdale, Ariz,, condo to settle his debts, Novey answered, "I don't know" to both questions.

Novey tried and failed to get his declaration sealed. Had the court agreed, much of the information in his bankruptcy would have been out of public view.

Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Holman last week said that Novey failed to appropriately estimate his future earnings, since he may receive money "contingent on the approval of various state agencies" from unspecified sources that would boost his income more than the $16,000 per month estimated in the bankruptcy plan. And even if the court accepted that figure, Holman wrote, Novey's expenses aren't enough to warrant stiffing unsecured creditors.

Holman also rejected Novey's claim of higher-than-normal utility bills and ruled that a Scottsdale condo that Novey and his wife, Carol, own is a luxury property and not an income-producing rental that should be shielded from creditors.

The judge's decision means that Novey will have to submit another bankruptcy plan to the court.

February 21, 2012
Ron Yank leaving top post as Jerry Brown's personnel director

Two sources have told The State Worker that Ron Yank is leaving the director's chair at the Department of Personnel Administration. Department spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley confirmed Yank's impending departure a few minutes ago.

The Brown administration hasn't yet named a successor to the state's top labor relations job, which Yank has held for a little over a year. Jolley said that Yank is leaving "around the end of this month."

Critics assumed that Gov. Jerry Brown named Yank, a retired labor lawyer, to the job as a make-good to public employee unions that supported his campaign, particularly the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Yank counted CCPOA and the state's fire fighters' union as clients for many years before he retired from Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP. His son, Jonathan Yank, also is a lawyer based in the firm's San Francisco office and handled CCPOA cases.

Yank countered that he would be an honest, impartial broker who would bring the respect of labor and years of experience to repair management relations damaged during epic battles with GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A few months after ank took the job, he closed contract talks with six unions that had refused to come to terms with Schwarzenegger.

Later, when Brown pressed to send more convicted criminals to local jails and downsize the state prison system, Yank negotiated key labor agreements that streamlined the layoff process for Corrections and Rehabilitation Department employees. The deal also eased the transfer process for state workers in the department to make it easier them to move from crowded facilities to others with vacancies.

Recently, Yank also ended the state's long-running dispute with CCPOA over union paid leave and settled furlough lawsuits with SEIU Local 1000 and the state's attorneys' union. CCPOA and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association also recently dropped their furlough litigation.

We're planning to talk with Yank later today.

February 21, 2012
Stanford: California's local public pensions $135.7 billion short

The 24 largest independent pension systems in California, including Sacramento County's, are facing a combined $135.7 billion in long-term obligations that they won't have the assets to cover, a new Stanford University report says.

Sacramento County is carrying $4.75 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to the report, with a funded ratio of 57.5 percent. Those numbers are based on an assumed rate of investment return of 5 percent used by the university's Institute for Economic Policy Research.

Generally, experts consider an 80 percent funding ratio for public pensions' financial health, but that figure is greatly affected by what the funds -- or in this case, Stanford researchers -- assume its investments will return. Many pension systems assume they'll earn 7.5 percent or more.

The average funded ratio of all 24 systems outside of CalPERS is 53.6 percent, using the lower Stanford investment return assumption. The research covers Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Ventura counties. The cities whose pensions were examined include Fresno, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego. The 24 systems account for more than 99 percent of independent system assets, Stanford says.

Between 1999 and 2010, the local municipalities' pension spending grew at 11.4 percent per year, more than the rate of growth for any other expenditure category, according to the report.

California Common Sense also sponsored the research by Stanford professor Joe Nation and student researcher Evan Storms. In December, Nation published a report that concluded California's three big statewide public pension systems have a combined $500 billion in unfunded liabilities. Public employee unions and CalPERS rejected Nation's conclusions.

MORE PENSION MATH: Funded Status, Benefits, and Spending Trends for California's Largest Independent Public...

February 21, 2012
Bill puts $250,000 limit on compensation to calculate CA pensions

Democratic Assemblyman Jerry Hill of San Mateo reintroduced a measure last week that caps the amount of state and local government employees' compensation used for pension calculations.

Assembly Bill 1639 would bring the state and local pensions in line with IRS rules that limit pensionable compensation. This year the limit is $250,000, up from $245,000 in 2011.

The law allows exemptions from the limit for public institutions. A few years ago the University of California's pension system was granted just such an exemption, although it wasn't implemented.

Then three dozen highly-paid UC employees demanded their pensions calculated on their full annual pay and not just the federal limit. That prompted Hill to introduce a measure similar to AB 1639 last year. The bill won unanimous approval in the Assembly.

Then Gov. Jerry Brown asked lawmakers to hold off on piecemeal public pension bills while he crafted a comprehensive reform package. Hill amended his measure to address some local pension issues in San Mateo County and struck the all-encompassing compensation-limit provision. Brown signed the more narrow measure.

Given its popularity last time around and it's restricted scope -- most public employees are nowhere near the compensation limit -- we expect Hill's new bill won't get much resistance. It might continue as a separate piece of legislation, although we think it could be absorbed into a larger pension reform package crafted by the Conference Committee on Public Employee Pensions in a month or so.

February 21, 2012
A.M. Reading: Super Bowl sick calls; Brown doesn't match with Gray; Caltrans SoCal snafu; pay raise news in ID, NC and WV

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifCT: Prison guards backed off Super Bowl sick calls
Efforts to stop the annual Super Bowl flood of "sick" calls among state prison guards largely succeeded in stopping staff shortages and statewide inmate lockdowns while the New York Giants clashed with the New England Patriots. But unionized guards have now called illegal procedure, filing about 100 grievances against Department of Correction Commissioner Leo C. Arnone for allegedly changing work rules and requiring doctor's notes for those who called in sick. (Connecticut Post)

Meg Whitman contributes $100,000 to Mitt Romney's Super PAC
Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman pulled out her checkbook last month to boost her former boss Mitt Romney's presidential bid. (Sacramento Bee)

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown and Gray Davis a study in contrasts
If Californians believed that electing Democrat Jerry Brown as governor would mean a big break with Republican predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger, they must be disappointed. (Sacramento Bee)

February 20, 2012
See how CSLEA spent money on political activities in 2011

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing he 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association's two active political action committees received about $1.26 million from the union and spent about $530,000 in 2011. A little less than half the money went to political organizations and candidates for office.

CSLEA gave the most money to the California Democratic Party, $110,000. Lobbyists, consultants and lawyers as a group received $283,000. They included attorney Wayne Ordos, $98,000; Yorba Linda-based P.M. Restaurants/Consulting, Inc., $94,000; lobbyist Craig Brown, $55,000; and former CCPOA President Don Novey, $36,000.

As you look through the tables that follow, remember thatexpenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations given to campaigns and political causes. Tabs at the bottom of each spreadsheet open tables with more detailed information of the union's political spending.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.

February 17, 2012
A.M. Reading: State workers vouch for Scott Walker plan; CalPERS fires warning shot; ME proposal ends public pensions for criminals; IN workers lose back-pay decision

MI: Scott Walker Allies Launch Ad Campaign
In advance of a near certain recall election, a national ally of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is taking to the airwaves with a new TV ad aimed at bolstering the image of Walker's controversial budget repair law, and features state workers touting the measure's reforms.(National Journal)

Editorial: Our View: Public Employees Bill of Rights Act all wrong
Considering the state of this state and the condition of the world, the so-called Public Employees Bill of Rights Act might be mistaken for satire. The problem is, Assembly Bill 1655, is serious. (Appeal Democrat)

The State Worker: Pension measure autopsy shows multiple causes of death
We're in the ballot initiative wing of the California Political Causes Morgue. On the table, two public pension reform plans that died last week. Scalpel, please. (Sacramento Bee)

Calpers to Buyout Funds: Give Up Carried Interest
California Public Employees' Retirement System's investment chief urged private-equity industry executives to abandon the fight to preserve a lucrative tax break on much of their income or "risk becoming the robber barons of the 21st century." (Wall Street Journal)

February 16, 2012
New analysis suggests public pension changes; reform spokesman looks ahead

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGA new analysis of the public pension issue suggests that government should move from pensions that increase based on service time to plans that motivate performance with higher pay that then boosts retirement payouts.

"Solving the Public Pension Plan Dilemma," is written by Dan Van Bogaert, a adjunct professor who teaches human resource management courses at UCLA and Brandman University. His analysis appears in the latest volume of the Journal of Pension Benefits.

Bogaert makes several suggestions, from switching to 401(k)-style defined contribution plans and raising the retirement age for full benefits to mandatory pension funding ratios and restricting union bargaining to wages.

He also wants pension formulas that use a "replacement ratio" method that guarantees employees a certain percentage of their working pay when they retire, along with "pay-for-performance" compensation policies that would reward workers for work well done, not merely their years of service.

"The objective is to offer pay and incentivized rewards for performance, rather than offer entitlements connected to tenure. DB plan formulae based primarily on years of service would be de-emphasized, and replaced by incentives tied to pay, as a means to grow pension benefits," Bogaert writes.

(On a related note, Aaron McLear, who often spoke on behalf of California Pension Reform during its now-suspended campaign to qualify a state and local government pension initiative for the November ballot, last week answered the question, "What's next for pension reform?" Click this link to read his thoughts on CBS 13's website.)
Solving the Public Pension Plan Dilemma
IMAGE: www.photobucket.com

February 16, 2012
California Earthquake Authority will pay furlough back wages

The state's quasi-private earthquake insurer is planning to pay furlough back wages to current and former agency employees who lost salary to the policy.

California Earthquake Authority spokeswoman D'Anne Ousley left a voice mail message with The State Worker Wednesday evening, confirming our earlier speculation that the agency would expand furlough lawsuit settlement terms reached with SEIU Local 1000 and California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment to non-represented staff.

The state's four other "off-budget" agencies that settled furloughs with the unions -- the Prison Industry Authority, the First 5 California Commission, the California Housing Finance Agency and the California State Lottery -- announced similar decisions earlier this week.

The repayment plans exclude members of Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists because those two associations are pressing on with furlough litigation. Local 1000 and CASE agreed to drop their remaining furlough lawsuits if their members in off-buget departments received furlough back pay.

The Earthquake Authority, a publicly-managed, privately-funded organization that provides
residential earthquake insurance, employs about 25 state civil service workers. Repaying them won't come from the state budget, since the agency operates on money taken in from investments and policyholder premiums.

February 15, 2012
CalPERS: Jerry Brown's hybrid pension plan won't significantly cut state's costs

Thumbnail image for 100607 CALPERS HQ.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's proposal to put future state and local government employees into hybrid retirement plans won't significantly cut the state's pension costs and could cost some employers more than their current defined benefit plans, the California Public Employees' Retirement System said in an analysis released Tuesday afternoon.

"For school employers, cost savings are expected to be 2 percent of payroll, while local public agencies will vary but are expected to be greater than the State overall," CalPERS staff analysis concluded, while employers' cost for safety workers' pensions would increase.

The fund confirmed that the governor's plan would lower benefits for new workers and shift more risk from employers to employees. Brown and other pension reformers have argued that both need to happen.

The report, requested by the Conference Committee on Public Employee Pensions, didn't consider administrative costs to manage a hybrid plan or to possibly close current defined benefit plans. It used two hypothetical retiring employees to illustrate how a hybrid plan would work:

As directed by the Committee staff, the hypothetical member is someone hired at age 32 that will eventually retire at age 67 for miscellaneous members and hired at age 27 that retires at age 57 for safety members.

Brown's goal is for a hybrid system that combines retirement income streams aiming to total 75 percent of an employee's income averaged over his or her final three work years. For miscellaneous workers, Brown's proposal envisions 25 percent coming from a 401(k)-type savings account, 25 percent from a defined benefit and 25 percent from Social Security.

Safety workers who don't pay into Social Security would receive 50 percent from a defined benefit. Hybrid pensions for the California Peace Officer Fire Fighter group would cost the state 2.1 percent more, CalPERS concluded.

Some links for those who want to dive into the deep end of the public-pension debate pool:

The CalPERS hybrid cost analysis
Hybrid Actuarial Analysis 2. 2012.docx
Summary of Gov. Jerry Brown's 12-point pension reform plan
Bill language of Brown's 12-point pension reform plan

PHOTO: CalPERS headquarters. Sacramento Bee photo.

February 15, 2012
Survey: Nearly 6 percent of California workers employed by state

map.jpgAbout six in 100 workers in California are employed by the state, according to a new Gallup Daily Tracking survey. The ratio more than doubles when federal and local government workers are included.

Some 5.6 percent of Golden State workers surveyed said they work for state government, the same percentage as Colorado. Thirty-six states had a higher percentage of workers who said they receive a state paycheck, led by Hawaii (12.6 percent), Alaska (11.5 percent) and West Virginia (11.2 percent).

On the other end of the spectrum, 4.8 percent of workers in Ohio and Maryland said they were state employees, followed by 4.4 percent in Pennsylvania and 4.3 percent in New Hampshire.

Nationally, 6.5 percent of the more than 129,000 American workers Gallup surveyed (including those in the District of Columbia) work for state government.

The statistic is somewhat misleading, however, because states distribute programs differently between federal, state and local governments.

By the larger measure, California ranked 33rd among the states with 15.3 percent of surveyed respondents saying they were government employees.

Nearly a third of workers in Hawaii, Alaska and the Maryland are in employed by government, the highest percentages in the nation.The lowest: Vermont, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which all hovered around 12 percent.

Nationally, 16.3 percent of American workers drew a government paycheck in 2011, a 1 percent decline from 2009. The job losses in the 50 states and the District of Columbia were spread equally over federal, state, and local governments and are consistent with Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Gallup said. Still, government employs at least 1 in 10 workers in every state.

Click here to see the government employment percentages for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This link opens Gallup's take on the numbers.

MAP: Courtesy Gallup

February 15, 2012
Two more agencies say they'll pay furlough back wages

Solidarity isn't just a union concept.

Nearly all current and former employees of the California Housing Finance Agency and the California State Lottery will receive back pay for wages lost to furloughs, officials now say.

Two other so-called "off-budget" agencies said the same thing earlier today. None of the payments will come from the state's general fund and -- this is key -- the Legislature doesn't appropriate money for their budgets.

Russ Lopez, the Lottery's deputy director of communications. The agency is still figuring out how many of its 644 current employees are in line for furlough back pay. Lottery retirees and other former staff furloughed during their time with the agency will have money coming to them.

The payments "aren't going to happen overnight,"
Lopez said.

Cal HFA has the same accounting challenge. The agency employs about 260 staff who support its mission to provide home financing and housing programs for low- and moderate-income Californians. Spokeswoman Melissa Flores said that her agency last year set aside "just under $4 million" to cover back payment costs, but hasn't yet determined how many current and former employees were affected by furloughs.

Nine Cal HFA employees represented by Professional Engineers in California Government won't received the back pay, Flores said, because their union is continuing to fight furloughs in court.

The decision by the Lottery and Cal HFA to pay furlough back wages means that four of five off-budget agencies that settled furlough litigation with SEIU Local 100 and the state attorney's union have now said publicly that they are extending the back-pay provisions of the settlements to all their affected employees and retirees.

Click here to read about similar decisions made by leaders at the state's Prison Industry Authority and the First 5 California Commission. The post includes more background on the union settlements that set the precedent for the payments now extended to all employees.

The fifth off-budget agency, the California Earthquake Authority, hasn't yet responded to our inquiry whether it will follow the other four off-budget agencies, but we expect it will.

The agency's attitude about furloughs is well known: During one heated courtroom debate, CEA's lawyer said of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration and furloughs that "These guys are making it up as they go along,"

February 15, 2012
A.M. Reading: CalPERS' investment forecast; ME pension reform lawsuit; TX double dippers; AZ bill makes firings easier

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifCalPERS will look again at adjusting forecast
CalPERS is going to look again at adjusting its investment forecast, a move that could increase taxpayer contributions while ramping up the political heat on public pension funds in California. (Sacramento Bee)

OR: State wellness plan penalties up for consideration
The Public Employees' Benefit Board put itself ahead of the curve -- but not too far ahead -- when it decided to penalize state workers who don't participate in its new wellness program, experts say. (Statesman Journal)

California Assembly decision to fight budget release cost nearly $200,000
The California Assembly spent nearly $200,000 in public funds fighting against release of member-by-member budgets allocating tens of millions in public funds, records show. (Sacramento Bee)

February 14, 2012
Two California agencies extend furlough back pay to all staff

Thumbnail image for 120214 Cal PIA logo.JPGThe California Prison Industry Authority and the First 5 California Commission will pay furlough back wages to all their employees.

The decision extends the terms of recent court settlements with two unions to excluded workers and other employees -- except the PIA's top executive and state engineers and scientists whose labor groups are pressing furlough litigation.

It's not yet clear when the State Controller's Office will issue the checks or exactly how many current and former employees will receive money. The payments won't affect the state's general fund budget since both agencies are fiscally independent of it.

The PIA employs about 570 workers who run inmate training programs. Officials figure the back pay will cost about $7.9 million of the $8.6 million the PIA set aside last year in anticipation of a settlement. (The payments won't include the interest that authority officials anticipated when they allocated the money.)

The agency doesn't yet have a specific count for how many people will receive back pay, spokesman Eric Reslock said, since some furloughed staff have since retired or left for other jobs and some current employees started work at the agency after furloughs ended last spring.

First 5 employs 35 staff. Spokeswoman Susan Hyman said that 50 current and former employees will receive payments. The agency, which administers services for children up to age 5, hasn't yet estimated what the furlough back pay will cost.

A few PIA workers are excluded from the deal. The authority's board will need to approve back pay for General Manager Charles Pattillo, Reslock said. A handful of staff represented by California Professional Engineers in California Government or California Association of Professional Scientists won't get the back pay, either, because their unions are pressing furlough litigation.

First 5 and the PIA are two of five so-called "off-budget" state agencies that recently settled furlough litigation with SEIU Local 1000 and California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment.

The settlements obligate the PIA, First 5, the California Earthquake Authority, the California Housing Finance Agency and the California State Lottery to pay back wages only to staff covered by the two unions. In exchange, Local 1000 and CASE have dropped their furlough lawsuits against the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has left it up to the five off-budget agencies whether to extend back wage payments to non-union workers. The State Worker has left messages with officials at the other three to find out whether they intend to pay back wages to all their employees.

PHOTO CREDIT: Image courtesy of California Prison Industry Authority.

February 13, 2012
California lawmaker writes 'Public Employees Bill of Rights'

Thumbnail image for 110304 Dickinson Randal Benton 2010.JPGAssemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento,(right) has introduced legislation that would give unionized state workers more workplace discipline protections and first dibs on state government work.

SEIU Local 1000 and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists support AB 1655, the "Public Employees Bill of Rights Act." Here's what it would do:

February 13, 2012
Special agents group loses request to stop CA Justice Department layoffs

A Sacramento judge has refused to temporarily halt layoffs planned for the Department of Justice, leaving the path clear for about 80 employees to be shown the exits.

The Association of Special Agents, a subset of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, had sought the temporary restraining order from Judge Timothy Frawley. He turned the association down on Friday after hearing brief arguments from both sides.

Many DOJ employees heeded the layoff warnings last year and moved on to other jobs or retired. As of this morning, about 73 sworn officers and 8 non-sworn staff were in department jobs that will be eliminated, DOJ spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said in an email to The State Worker.

DOJ will terminate those workers on Friday, said ASA President Mike Loyd.

"They'll be handed their final check, shown the door and told, 'Thanks for your service,'" Loyd said.

When asked whether the ASA would keep up the fight, Loyd said, "Heck yeah."

The association alleges that Gov. Jerry Brown engineered the elimination of about 300 jobs -- most of them held by special agents in the department's anti-drug unit -- in retaliation for CSLEA's support of Republican Meg Whitman during the 2010 California gubernatorial race.


The Brown administration blamed the job cuts on Republicans' tax inflexibility during budget talks.

February 13, 2012
Bill puts $100,000 cap on future state and local pensions

120213 Don Wagner.JPGAssemblyman Donald Wagner (left) has introduced a bill that would cap state and local pensions.

The Irvine Republican's measure, AB 1633, would cap pensions for workers who don't participate in Social Security at $100,000 per year. Workers who do participate in the federal program couldn't receive more than $80,000 per year from a state or local pension.

The cap would apply to pensions of employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2013. Conflicting labor contracts in effect on that date would control until they expire, then the state law would be binding and could not be undone by subsequent union agreements.

On a related side note, Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Torey Van Oot, who covered the Democratic Party Convention in San Diego last weekend tells The State Worker than Gov. Jerry Brown didn't mention the "p-word," pensions, in his speech at the confab. Brown has put a 12-point pension reform plan before lawmakers and last month asked them to "do something real" to bring down governments' employee retirement costs.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Donald Wagner / www.asm.ca.gov

February 13, 2012
CA prison officers spent more than $1 million on political advice

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association paid a total $1.1 million to four political consultants and a political lawyer last year, according to documents the union filed with the state.

Media strategy firm The Battin Group (formerly Voter Strategies Inc. and run by former Republican lawmaker Jim Battin) topped the list with $342,000 from CCPOA., followed by $220,000 to J. S. Peace & Associates, which is headed by former state lawmaker and "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" producer Steve Peace.

Other CCPOA expenditures in 2011 included $200,000 to former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata's firm, Perata Consulting LLC, about $200,000 more to attorney Wayne Ordos and $157,000 to McNally Temple Associates Inc., another consulting firm.

The union also gave $100,000 to the California Independent Voter Project, a non-profit organization that offers to pay the expenses of state lawmakers who attend an annual Hawaii conference. Peace is one of the non profit's principals.

CCPOA, like many players in the political arena gave money to both sides of the aisle. Last year it wrote checks totaling $110,000 to the California Democratic Party and $25,000 to the California Republican Party.

By our count, the union controlled or wholly subsidized at least nine PACs, although not all of them took in or paid out money last year. Click here for a list that includes the committees.

We focused on the six most active PACS and subtotaled individual expenditures and contributions of the biggest accounts. Access those figures by clicking the "expend totals" or "contrib totals" at the bottom of some tables.

Expenditures pages show everything the association spent on political action, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations to campaigns and political causes.To get a sense of political spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.

Here are the CCPOA numbers:

February 13, 2012
A.M. Reading: CA contract talks; OK: six years, no raises; SD bonuses; MT health clinic for state workers

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifState employee unions aren't counting on generous contracts from Democrat Jerry Brown
Contract talks kicking off this month between the state and four employee unions present Gov. Jerry Brown with a political dilemma: How does he deal fairly with his key labor constituency without exposing himself to charges he's kowtowing to them? (Sacramento Bee)

California's mobile hospitals are running out of money and time
In a cool, 18,000-square-foot warehouse tucked in an industrial Sacramento-area neighborhood sits millions of dollars in equipment California leaders hope never to use. (Sacramento Bee)

While GOP leaders call for smaller government, Okla. state workers near 6 years since pay hike
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jess Callahan, a state social worker who helps provide services to the elderly, blind and disabled in Choctaw County, hasn't seen a pay raise since 2006, and he's not alone. (AP/ The Republic)

In Wisconsin, assessing a new labor law's impact
RACINE, Wisconsin -- James Ladwig recently took over the job of Racine County executive. He was sworn in last April, not long after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a controversial bill curtailing the bargaining rights of state and local workers. So with the new job, Ladwig got a new set of rules for governing his county. (Stateline)

February 10, 2012
Poll: Is the SEIU Local 1000 furlough settlement an unfair deal?

The State Worker continues to hear from state employees who are complaining that a recent furlough lawsuit settlement between SEIU Local 1000 and the Brown administration isunfair.

The complaints run along two tracks. One comes from managers and supervisors in the five "off-budget" agencies named in the settlement. They're not represented by SEIU or any other unions and aren't part of the furlough agreement.

Callers have pointed out that when a union reaches a contract agreement at the bargaining table that the managers and supervisors attached to those covered workers usually receive similar terms.

The exempt employees calling and emailing us about the furlough settlement think the same should apply here to the furlough back pay agreement. Of course, that decision is up to the Brown administration and/or the agencies.

The other complaint comes from state worker blog users who think that settlement provisions that awarded back pay to rank-and-file workers in five "off budget" agencies unfairly and arbitrarily single out a select few employees for a special benefit.

It's a twist on the complaints we heard when employees working for constitutional officers avoided furlough. Ditto when the courts decided State Compensation Fund Employees were illegally furloughed awarded them back pay.

SEIU has said that it got the most it could from a losing legal hand.

What do you think?

February 9, 2012
See how the California Association of Highway Patrolmen spent its money in 2011

This is the third in a series of posts that will detail the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen took in nearly twice as much in contributions as it spent on political activities in 2011. Contributors gave the union $465,947, according to reports filed with the state. Only one contribution, $300 returned from Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon, exceeded the $100 threshold for itemized reporting, according to CAHP's filings.

Meanwhile, the association wrote checks for $223,415 to cover political activities. All but about $10,000 went to poltical campaigns, mostly via fundraisers. The largest expenses listed on the union's report were $50,000 for the Speaker's Cup golf tournament at Pebble Beach and $50,000 to the Pro Tem's Cup golf event at Torrey Pines.

We've embedded a spreadsheet below with pages that detail what CAHP spent on political activities last year and other pages that total up the money. You can access each page by clicking the tabs at the bottom of the table.

Expenditures page show everything the association spent on poltical action, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations to campaigns and political causes.To get a sense of political spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.

February 9, 2012
State worker criticizes SEIU's decision to settle furlough cases

We've heard from several state workers who aren't happy that SEIU Local 1000 settled its furlough litigation in exchange for back wages for 700 or so of its members working in "off-budget" agencies.

Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has said that the union's legal team advised that broader litigation wasn't likely to win, so the union cut its losses and took what it could get from a settlement.

Paul Warrick, an associate governmental program analyst, sent an email to The State Worker that hits the tone of the complaints we've heard. We're publishing his email here, unedited and with his permission. He's speaking for himself, not his employer, colleagues or Local 1000:

Big whoop! Someone (or SEIU) should have pursued the larger Federal issue of equal pay for equal work. Everyone who receives a state payroll check should have been furloughed or no one should have been furloughed. Furloughs were happenstance. If you just happened to be an Office Technician, Staff Services Analyst, etc. in the wrong agency (based on funding source or other criteria), you got furloughed while your neighbor who was also an OT or SSA, but worked for another agency didn't get furloughed. It's just ridiculous.

Paul Warrick DSS

February 9, 2012
San Jose pension estimates questioned

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

Thanks to Blog User J for flagging this story for The State Worker.

February 9, 2012
Column Extra: See the court documents filed by CCPOA, CSLEA, to drop furlough lawsuits

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, some of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Today's State Worker column breaks down which unions are in and which are out of the court fight over furloughs. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association are the latest to lay down arms.

CCPOA spokesman JeVaughn Baker said that the weight of several court decisions favoring the state pushed the union to stop its litigation: "We decided it's in the best interest of the association to focus on other issues."

SEIU Local 1000 and California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment also recently dropped their furlough litigation.

Meanwhile, the state's engineers and scientists are Alameda Superior Court No. RG10630312
Original petition: CCPOA v. Schwarzenegger (requires Java)

CSLEA's request for dismissal, Alameda Superior Court No. RG10507081
Original petition: CSLEA v. Schwarzenegger

CCPOA's request for dismissal: 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Original Complaint: Newton v. Schwarzenegger

February 9, 2012
A.M. Reading: Pension reform effort suspended; SD rethinks collective bargaining; SC's pay and pension idea

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifDemocrats gear up to fight part-time Legislature measure
A Democratic political strategist and a former Democratic assemblyman will help lead opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would reduce California's Legislature to part-time. (Sacramento Bee)

The State Worker: Some California unions drop furlough cases; two soldier on
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association quietly dropped two furlough lawsuits last week, one in Alameda Superior Court and the other a federal case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Sacramento Bee)

Sick pay cashouts for NJ public workers the talk of the day
Emotions ran high Wednesday at a conference of New Jersey mayors, some of whom demanded stepped-up state assistance in controlling municipal budgets, with others being lashed by a legislator for creating massive taxpayer liabilities to public workers for unused sick pay. (Asbury Park Press)

Group suspends California public pension reform ballot effort
The cause of pension reform in California took a significant body shot Wednesday when a group hoping to put an overhaul measure before voters this year suspended its campaign. (Sacramento Bee)

February 8, 2012
California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign

A group that hoped to put a sweeping public employee pension reform measure on the November ballot is suspending its campaign.

"It's a sad day for pension reform in California," said Aaron McLear, spokesman for Sacramento-based California Pension Reform.

Although the group had drafted two measures that qualified for signature collection, it couldn't raise the $2 million or so needed to mount the petition effort for either one.

In November, Calfornia Pension Reform submitted a proposal to put future state and local public employees into defined contribution plans and another measure that would have shifted future workers into hybrid pensions. In January, it received the title and summary for both, intending to determine which would poll better and then shop that plan to potential campaign donors.

The language that came back from Attorney General Kamala Harris' office was worded to make it unpopular with voters, the pension reform group complained. The language was "false and misleading," it said in a press statement today.

And that made it harder to find money, McLear said.

February 8, 2012
See California state attorneys union's political spending in 2011

This is the second in a series of posts that will detail the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment reported political contributions of $154,200 and political expenditures of $206,443, according to records published by the state.

The expense report tallies all political spending, including the contributions figures that break out money that went to politicians and issues campaigning.

The California Democratic Central Committee received the most money, $37,700. Rank-and-file members contributed a little over $41,000 to the CASE PAC. Nearly all of that came in $10 donations. CASE represents roughly 3,400 employees.

We've embedded a spreadsheet below with pages that detail what CASE received and gave last year and other pages that total up the money. To get a sense of political spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on the site run through December 2010.

February 7, 2012
See SEIU Local 1000 political action committees' 2011 spending

This is the first in a series of posts that will detail the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

A political action committees operated by SEIU Local 1000 gave $380,000 to campaigns and organizations last year, including nearly $195,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee of California, according to records filed with the state.

The union also donated a total of $21,000 to help retire 2010 campaign debts for Democrats such as Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara; Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda; and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, among others.

One of the union's PACs donated several hundred dollars of staff time to politicians, including Controller John Chiang.

For a list of the union's political entities, click here. The union's reports to the state duplicated some expenditures. Note: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that public sector employees may not be compelled to subsidize political or ideological activities of public employee unions.

We've embedded a spreadsheet below that details how the union's various political entities received and gave last year. To get a sense of political spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org (the California data on the site run through December 2010).

Editor's note, 2:29 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that unions could not use members' dues to fund PACs.


February 7, 2012
California Prison Industry Authority: Agency business costs hurt bottom line

After years of profitability, the California Prison Industry Authority suffered a $15.3 million loss last year, according to its latest annual report to the state Legislature.

The losses in fiscal 2010-11 came from a $17.4 million drop in operating revenues and $8.6 million the self-funded PIA set aside in anticipation of settling union furlough lawsuits. The authority also paid $6.3 million to cover Other Post-Employment Benefits such as retiree health care and a $2.8 million expense from factory closures.

"If not for the furlough expense, the annual OPEB charge, and the onetime costs associated with factory closures, CALPIA would have continued its profitability in FY 2010-11," the report says.

The PIA oversees four inmate training programs that operate manufacturing, service, and agriculture industries at 22 correctional facilities. They produce everything from modular buildings and fire protection gear to furniture and pre-packaged meals. Most of what PIA makes is purchased by the state or other government entities.

More than 7,000 inmates participate, saving the state "more than $11 million annually in General Fund costs for rehabilitation positions that CDCR does not have to fund," the annual report says. Those inmates make between 30 and 95 cents per hour before deductions.

Participants without a high school diploma must earn a GED within two years to continue in the program. Joint Venture Program participants earn a comparable wage less deductions for things like taxes, room and board, crime victim compensation, government-ordered restitution such as child support. Inmates in the program also have to put money into a savings account.

Graduates from the PIA's Career Technical Education program, which gives inmates "hands-on experience in real world training," were 89 percent less likely to return to prison when compared with the prison system's general population, according to the report. Overall, PIA participants across the board had a 24 percent to 30 percent lower recidivism rate than the general prison population.

February 7, 2012
A.M. Reading: CA lawmaker pay hike; secret tax inspection decision in NY; AK pensions could change; lawmaker retirements

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifBudgets were tight, but some California lawmakers got extra money last year
With California billions behind on its budget and public services shrinking, the Assembly collectively tightened its belt last year - but not all of its members did. (Sacramento Bee)

NY: Drawing Fire, Deal Gives Agency Staff Power to See State Workers' Tax Files
ALBANY -- Lawmakers and labor unions on Monday pointedly criticized a secret decision by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration to greatly expand the state inspector general's access to tax returns filed by state employees. (New York Times)

Initiative would make Legislature part time, slash its pay
A proposal by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) probably won't make her many friends among her colleagues. She wants to reduce the Legislature to part-time status and cut its pay from $95,000 annually to $1,500 a month. (Los Angeles Times)

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown's tax plan takes a double hit
Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign to balance the state budget with new income and sales taxes took a double hit Monday. (Sacramento Bee)

February 6, 2012
Former Caltrans employee indicted for trying to export high-tech parts to China

A former Department of Transportation employee who attempted to illegally export military satellite technology has been indicted on federal charges, according to court documents unsealed today.

Civil engineer Philip Chaohui He, who was also known as Philip Hope, was arrested in Long Beach on Dec. 11 and fired from his Caltrans job 10 days later for failing to show up to work.

Department spokeswoman Tamie McGowen said that He, an Oakland resident, reviewed technical drawings and that his work was closely supervised, including work he did on the Bay Bridge.

"He had no access to sensitive information that's not available to the public," McGowen said, asserting that there are no safety or security concerns about He's work.

Investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security told Caltrans last July that they were watching He. At the fed's request, Caltrans cooperated with the investigation.

"We're proud of the fact that we were closely working with them," McGowen said.

The Colorado federal grand jury indictment alleges that He drove to the port of Long Beach on Dec. 11 with 200 radiation-hardened integrated circuits worth nearly $550,000 in the trunk of his car. The circuits, which are considered sensitive defense articles banned from export without federal authorization, were concealed in plastic infant formula containers inside five sealed boxes marked "milk powder" in Chinese.

At the port, the indictment alleges, He met two men "in front of a docked ship bearing a (Chinese) flag. The (Chinese) flagged ship was registered to Zhenhua Port Machinery Company LTD, a subsidiary of the ... state-owned corporation China Communications Construction." One of the men had a Chinese passport and the ship was scheduled to return to China in a few days.

He allegedly obtained the circuits illegally from Colorado-based Aeroflex Colorado Springs. After his arrest, he was extradited to Colorado and now faces up to 35 years and $1.5 million in fines on charges of conspiracy, attempted unlawful export and attempted smuggling of defense articles.

He appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver on Friday where he was advised of his rights and the charges against him
.
Click here to read the Colorado federal grand jury indictment.

February 6, 2012
Unions representing California state engineers, scientists, continue furlough fight

While two unions have settled the last remnants of their legal battles against state worker furloughs, two others continue to fight.

Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists filed opening arguments against furloughs in Alameda Superior Court on Friday. The unions are asking the court to set aside the furlough orders "to the extent that they were unlawful and the employees represented by Petitioners should be made whole for unauthorized reductions in their compensation."

Their arguments include two new twists.

February 6, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 asks courts to dismiss furlough lawsuits

100602 yolo county gavel.jpgAs part of its agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, SEIU Local 1000 has filed requests for dismissal of five furlough lawsuits in Alameda, Sacramento and San Francisco superior courts.

Click here for background on the furlough litigation between the union and Brown.

The following links open Local 1000's applications to have the cases dismissed. If you want more information about each, click on the county in the list below to open the court's document viewer, plug in the case number, and download the complaints.

Alameda Case No. RG10494800
Alameda Case No. RG10507922
Alameda Case No. RG094567750
Sacramento Case No. 34-2009-80000150-CU-WM-GDS
San Francisco CPF09509782

IMAGE: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

February 5, 2012
A.M. Reading: CA legislators' cars sold; EDD worker arrested; NC layoffs hit women, minorities hardest

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifLawmakers' cars going, going ... gone!
The Capitol parking garage should have some extra spaces this spring. The Legislature has spent the last two months selling cars it had previously purchased for lawmakers, a move mandated by the California Citizens Compensation Commission's decision to cut the car perk legislators have enjoyed for decades. (Sacramento Bee)

See the sale prices for California legislators' state cars
The state Legislature has taken a loss of more than $1 million on the sale of dozens of cars it had purchased for legislators over the years. (Sacramento Bee)

CA: Three arrested in unemployment insurance scheme
Federal authorities have arrested three Inland residents in connection with a scheme to issue unemployment checks to people who did not qualify for benefits, federal authorities said Thursday in a statement. (Press-Enterprise)

High-speed rail tapped state funds for unusual lobbying contract
In an extremely unusual use of taxpayer money, the leaders behind California's $99 billion high-speed train quietly hired a lobbyist to sway the Legislature -- the same politicians who appointed them to build the project in the first place. (Mercury News)

February 3, 2012
Read the furlough settlements between CASE and California

The State Worker has obtained the settlement agreements that end two furlough lawsuits against the state in exchange for restoring back pay for a handful of employees represented by the state's legal professionals' union.

Technically, the deal is two deals.

One settlement worked out between California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Offices in State Employment and Gov. Jerry Brown's administration ends the furlough litigation.

The other is between CASE and the five departments that receive no legislative appropriation and employ about two dozen affected CASE members: First 5 California, the Prison Industry Authority, the California Earthquake Authority, the California Housing Finance Agency and the California State Lottery. That deal OKs paying back wages.

We emailed the agreements to Tim Yeung, a former Personnel Administration lawyer now in private practice, and asked him why the settlement was split.

"The only reason I can think of to split the settlement is to make it crystal clear that Governor Brown and the general fund are not on the hook for the payments from the 5 agencies who were not part of the budget appropriation," Yeung said said in an email.

You can read the union and administration agreement that ends furlough litigation by clicking here. The departments' back pay agreement with CASE is available via this link. Or you can read the embedded documents below:

February 3, 2012
California state attorneys, Jerry Brown settle furlough litigation

The union representing the state's legal professionals and Gov. Jerry Brown's administration have agreed to settle their furlough fight.

The deal returns wages lost to furlough to about 24 members of California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment. In exchange, the union is dropping its last two furlough lawsuits.

The agreement affects only CASE members in five departments that don't receive legislative budget appropriation: First 5 California, the Prison Industry Authority, the California Earthquake Authority, the California Housing Finance Agency and the California State Lottery.

SEIU Local 1000 recently agreed to a similar settlement.

The CASE rationale, which you can read below or by clicking here, can be summed up in five words: "Take what you can get."
CASE memo to members

February 3, 2012
UC study says hybrid pensions would hurt lowest-paid workers

111201 Brown Amezcua.JPGGov. Jerry Brown's plan to put future state and local government employees into hybrid pension plans and push back the full retirement age for new hires would hit low-paid workers the hardest, according to a recent academic analysis.

Researcher Nari Rhee of the pro-labor UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education concludes that while Brown's suggested package of changes to public retirement systems contains "several sensible proposals," the pension design and age threshold changes "may impose a disproportionately large burden on low-wage workers."

February 2, 2012
Jerry Brown delivers pension reform language to legislators

Gov. Jerry Brown has sent language for his 12-point pension reform plan to the Legislature's Conference Committee on Public Employee Pensions.

The proposals are divided into two groups. The constitutional amendment Brown offered broadly outlines the pension changes more narrowly defined in the language to change state law. The governor's plan won't go forward without two-thirds of the Legislature voting to put the constitutional changes on the Nov. 6 ballot, which would then need voter approval from a majority.

The changes would kick in Jan. 1, 2013. Labor agreements that contradict the governor's plan would prevail until the pacts expire.

February 2, 2012
Column Extra: Skelly case set precedent for state worker discipline

Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, some of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's Bee looks at the state's employee disciplinary process. An aspect of the topic that we had to leave out was the legal precedent for the system we outlined, specifically Skelly v. State Personnel Board.

February 2, 2012
A.M. Reading: CA state payroll; federal pay freeze; PA unions pitch budget cut alternatives

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifCalifornia government payroll grew by $500 million in 2011 as furloughs eased
State government payroll increased by half a billion dollars last year, even as California cut thousands of state worker jobs, according to a Bee analysis of new data from the Controller's Office. (Sacramento Bee)

OR: Lawmakers consider supervisor ratio
A bill intended to accelerate middle management reductions in Oregon state government got off to a rocky start before skeptical legislators Wednesday. (Statesman Journal)

The State Worker: How hard is it to fire a state worker?
Caltrans' recent decision to "unfire" an employee who admitted falsifying structural tests and let him retire may leave you wondering, How hard is it to fire a state worker? (Sacramento Bee)

February 2, 2012
State worker pay database updated with 2011 information

After combing through the state controller's 2011 payroll data, The Bee's Phillip Reese reports this morning that

State government payroll increased by half a billion dollars last year, even as California cut thousands of state worker jobs, according to a Bee analysis of new data from the Controller's Office.

The payroll increase added about $140 million in wages to the Sacramento economy in 2011, contributing to a budding recovery.

The story, which you can read here, coincides with an update to the state worker pay database.

Click this link to open the pay search engine and scroll down to the notes below the "top salaries" list to understand the sources and boundaries of the data.

February 1, 2012
Jerry Brown appoints Kimiko Burton to State Personnel Board

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Kimiko Burton, 47, of San Francisco, to the State Personnel Board. She is taking the seat left vacant by Will Fox, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's chief of staff, after the Senate failed to confirm him.

If confirmed, Burton would serve the last seven years of the position's 10-year term. The job pays $40,668.

Burton has been a deputy city attorney in San Francisco since 2003 and worked as a public defender from 2001 to 2003. She also worked in San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's administration and as a staff attorney for the State Board of Equalization from 1995 to 1996.

Burton, a Democrat, earned her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Burton's father is John Burton, the former state senate president pro tem and current chairman of the California Democratic Party.

February 1, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker talks about furlough lawsuit settlement with Jerry Brown

120130 Yvonne Walker 2008.JPGOur report in today's Bee quotes SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker talking about the union's decision to settle its furlough litigation against the state. Here are highlights from her interview with The State Worker:

On working with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown compared with his predecessor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"What a difference a governor makes. ... He actually respects workers and the services we provide Californians."

On the state's furlough policy and Brown's position on it:

"We've said all along the furlough plan was a bad plan. It not only jeopardized working people, but came at a great cost to the state. This governor did the right thing. He looked at it and understood that we had the opportunity to say, 'How do we close out this ugly chapter in the state's history?' "

On how the deal came together:

"The governor's attorneys called and said, 'Can we settle this?' and we said, 'Yes.' "

On arguments that the agreement benefits a relatively small group of SEIU members at the expense of pursuing lawsuits that could benefit the vast majority of union-covered state workers:

"Realistically, those four lawsuits didn't have the potential to do something for everyone. We lost the majority of our cases. Even when your cause is righteous, going to court is a crap shoot."

PHOTO CREDIT: Yvonne Walker speaks at a news conference responding to Gov. Schwarznegger's furlough plan for state workers, Friday Dec. 19, 2008. Sacramento Bee / Brian Baer

February 1, 2012
A.M. Reading: CalSTRS' strain; ME gun bill; OR state email uproar; AZ bill takes on public unions

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifCalSTRS may cut forecast again
CalSTRS is thinking of cutting its investment forecast for the second time in barely a year, a move that acknowledges the increased financial strain on the pension fund. (Sacramento Bee)

John Chiang says California's cash will dry up if officials don't act
California will run out of cash by early March if the state does not borrow more money and delay some payments, the state's cash manager warned Tuesday. (Sacramento Bee)

Maine Bill Would Allow Public Employees to Bring Guns to Work
Maine lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow state employees to bring guns to work. The measure would require that gun owners have a concealed weapons permit and keep firearms locked and out of sight in their vehicles, according to Capitol News Service. (MPBN)



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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State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.

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