The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

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)

Sweeping bills attack public employee unions
Arizona's Republican Legislature could virtually wipe out public employee unions in a sweeping new package of legislation far broader than the collective-bargaining bills that shut down Wisconsin's Capitol last spring. (AZCentral.com)

Iowa paying out for improper layoffs
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa prison and parole supervisors who were laid off under former Gov. Chet Culver's administration have been paid nearly $500,000 in back pay and counting after a state panel ruled their firings were improper, records show. (AP / CBS Money Watch)

Riverside County public employees stage 24-hour strike
Several thousand Riverside County public employees walked off the job Tuesday to protest the terms of a new labor contract. (KPCC)

Federal judge may overturn CalPERS care rule
CalPERS refuses to sell its long-term care insurance to the same-sex partners of state workers, on the grounds that federal law doesn't allow it. Now a judge in Oakland seems ready to overturn that federal ban. (Sacramento Bee)

Most Michigan voters oppose health benefits for domestic partners of public employees, poll says
LANSING - A majority of Michigan voters oppose the idea of state and local governments providing health care benefits to the domestic partners of public employees, according to a poll released this morning. (Detroit Free Press)

Bill seeks changes to 'three-strikes' law
One day after turning thumbs down, the Assembly on Tuesday passed legislation that would ask voters to alter California's "three-strikes" criminal sentencing law. (Sacramento Bee)

OR: State workers upset about getting emails at home
Some Oregon state workers are shocked and angry that a key legislator gained access to their home email addresses through public records requests with state agencies. A number of state employees received an email at home last week from Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, who asked them to participate in a survey to help identify cost-saving measures. (Statesman Journal)

OR: Odds and ends from today's e-mail article
Sometimes a reporter has some interesting stuff left over after working on a big breaking news story. That's what happened with today's article about state workers' ire at having their home e-mail addresses released as part of a public records request from a state legislator. I just couldn't find room in the article for everything I'd gathered -- or had some folks send me interesting stuff after my deadline. (Statesman Journal)

Furlough settlement brings back pay for some California state workers
Several hundred California state workers will receive back wages as part of an agreement to end five furlough lawsuits against the government. (Sacramento Bee)

State lawmakers not giving up on raise for state workers
LITTLE ROCK -- The co-chairmen of the legislative Joint Budget Committee said today that legislators have not given up on the idea of finding a way to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for state employees in the next fiscal year. (Arkansas News)

TN: State Workers Afraid to Comment on New Civil Service Rules
The state's roughly 44,000 employees anticipate major changes if the governor is able to push through an overhaul to civil service protection. However, they're not interested in talking publicly about their concerns. (WPLN)

Viewpoints: We want it all; we just don't want to pay for it
A small victory for California taxpayers last week. (Sacramento Bee)

ID: Plan to give state workers health savings accounts stalls, sponsor will bring it back
Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, believes that by giving state workers more responsibility in their health service purchasing decisions it will bring down insurance costs for the state, but the legislation he created to do that needs a little more work. (Idaho Reporter)

MA: The fight is on to save Taunton State Hospital
TAUNTON -- Lawmakers, care providers and families vowed at a rally Sunday to fight to prevent the closing of Taunton State Hospital. (South Coast Today)

NV: PERS earnings rise 21 percent
State lawmakers learned Monday that the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada generated a 21 percent return on its investments for fiscal 2011 -- the highest return in 25 years. (Lahontan Valley News)

Health care program for state employees shows $43 million surplus
CARSON CITY -- State legislators heard some surprising news Monday: The once nearly insolvent health care program for state employees is sitting on a $43 million surplus. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Pension-fund fees pit treasurer against senator
South Carolina's treasurer and state senators debated Tuesday whether the state pension fund is paying too much to its investment advisers. (The State)

Parents Of Disabled Residents Blast Decision To Close Training Centers
FAIRFAX, Va. - Parents of children who live in Virginia's Training Centers blasted the Justice Department for the decision to close four of the five centers. The plan would move the residents into group homes or their own homes with support services within ten years. The Northern Virginia Training Center in Fairfax is slated to close in three years. (WUSA)

NJ: Commentary: Gov. Christie views developmentally disabled individuals as 'pot of money'
The burning issue regarding the potential closing of developmental centers for people with developmental disabilities has quieted down but not gone away. (NewJerseyNewsroom.com)

Audit finds additional state workers 'double-dipping'
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The legislative auditor said Monday he has discovered a few more retired public employees who are exploiting a loophole allowing them to draw a pension and a salary at the same time. (Charleston Daily Mail)

WV: Senate Could Approve OPEB Bill Wednesday
Final approval could come from the full Senate as early as Wednesday on the bill that would set up a plan for paying off what the state owes for health care benefits for future state retirees. (MetroNews)

Number of Older Inmates Grows, Stressing Prisons
The number of Americans in prison older than 55 is growing at a faster rate than the group's share of the population at large, and many prisons are unprepared to provide them with health care, which can cost as much as nine times more than for younger inmates, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Friday. (New York Times)

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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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