The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

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)

CalPERS vows to push giant Preservation Ranch vineyard project
CalPERS, the giant state workers pension fund, has ended several months of uncertainty by signaling to Sonoma County that it intends to move forward with a huge, controversial timber-to-vineyard conversion project near Annapolis. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

State workers may have to wait longer to retire
COLUMBIA -- A House panel studying South Carolina pension reform will consider this week tweaking proposed requirements on age and years on the job. (AP / Post and Courier)

HI: State overpaid employees by more than $2 million
HONOLULU - A Hawaii News Now investigation reveals the state has overpaid its employees more than $1.5 million, with hundreds of thousands more in state tax dollars written off as uncollectable and other incorrect pay amounts recovered months or years later from employees who were accidentally paid too much. (HawaiiNewsNow)

WI: State's public workers cope with reduced buying power following Walker legislation
State of Wisconsin clerical worker Gina Bertolini started paying about 6 percent of her $15.48 hourly wage toward her pension in August plus $84 a month for her health coverage. (Wisconsin State Journal)

One year later, lower-paid state workers feel pinch of CB law
MADISON, WI - It was a year ago this week when Governor Scott Walker proposed his landmark legislation that virtually eliminated public union bargaining privileges. The same law requires all state and local workers not covered by union contracts to pay 12 percent of the health insurance benefits, plus 5.8 percent of their salaries toward their pensions. Laura Dresser of the UW-Madison Center on Wisconsin Strategy says the economy's taking a hit, because thousands of people are getting cuts in their take home pay. And Dresser says it "moves Wisconsin away from creating jobs." (WTAQ)

Alaska state workers might get DB again
A bill in the Alaska Senate would allow new public employees to choose to participate in a defined benefit or defined contribution plan. (Pensions & Investments)

Iowa auditor says budget doesn't cover raises
DES MOINES, Iowa -- State auditor David Vaudt warned Monday that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed budget doesn't include funding to cover pay and benefit increases for state workers, nor does it do enough to help an estimated $5.7 billion shortfall in the state's pension system. (CBS Money Watch)

Proposed Changes in Benefits Could Lead to Early Lawmaker Retirements
When state lawmakers changed post-retirement health care for state workers several years ago, a number of state employees took early retirement -- all while many complained that legislators themselves would be treated differently and could retire out of the legislative branch with better benefits. (Utah Pulse)

Lawmakers in 9 states target own pension perks
Lawmakers in nine states -- Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey and South Carolina-- are advancing legislation to scale back their own pensions by closing loopholes and lucrative retirement plans that have let thousands of former lawmakers earn more in retirement than while in office. (USA Today)

Debate on Florida private prisons hinges on cost
TALLAHASSEE -- As state lawmakers consider a massive expansion of prison privatization, one number dominates the debate: 7 percent. (Miami Herald)

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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