The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 15, 2012
AM Reading: Brown's taxing compromise; CalPERS' forecast; CalSTRS versus Micky Mouse; AZ 'cronyism'

Thumbnail image for newspaper_5.gifThe State Worker: Personnel case takes on how the state handles hiring
In 2007, James Ward sold his San Diego-area dental practice and moved to Blythe, the remote desert town between Los Angeles and Phoenix. The reason for the dramatic switch: a job he took at Ironwood State Prison. (Sacramento Bee)

Jerry Brown changes his tax plan to address concerns of liberal allies
After a months-long feud with his most liberal allies, Gov. Jerry Brown compromised Wednesday to eliminate a rival tax initiative for the November ballot. (Sacramento Bee)

Skelton: Acrobat Brown does a flip on tax hike measure
Back in the day, when Gov. Jerry Brown would dazzle us with a flip-flop, he'd land on his feet spouting philosophy. (Los Angeles Times)

CalPERS cuts investment forecast by quarter-point
CalPERS is forcing state and local governments to pay more to support the giant pension fund - but will let them ease into it. The fund's governing board Wednesday approved a quarter-point drop in CalPERS' investment forecast, to 7.5 percent. (Sacramento Bee)

CA: Calstrs Opposed Disney's Pay Plan, Iger's Chairman Role
The California State Teachers' Retirement System, the second-largest U.S. public pension fund, opposed Walt Disney Co. (DIS)'s executive-pay plan and the decision to combine the roles of chairman and chief executive officer. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Minnesota pension commission tables rate-reduction proposal
The Minnesota Legislative Commission on Pensions & Retirement on March 20 will consider lowering the assumed annual return rate for state and major local public pension plans to 8% from 8.5%. (Pensions & Investments)

Column: Who's to blame in California?
In so-called "March in March" protests, thousands of students in California universities recently demonstrated in outrage over spiraling tuition costs. ... Yet against whom, exactly, are these cash-strapped students demonstrating? After all, their college faculties are unionized, largely liberal and sympathetic to their plight. (Chicago Tribune)

WA: Undermining state pensions is short-sighted
Are you saving for your retirement? If you are working, you are. You put 4.1 percent of your paycheck into Social Security, through the FICA tax. Now consinder if we had no Social Security. (The Herald)

AZ: House OKs stripping most state workers of job protections
On a party-line vote, the state House on Wednesday approved sweeping changes to the personnel system designed to give the governor and her department heads more power to discipline and fire state workers. (Arizona Daily Star)

AZ: Making cronyism state's official public policy
How would you react if you heard about a politician who got a longtime government employee fired because he'd promised the guy's job to the nincompoop nephew of a big campaign donor? (Arizona Republic)

LA: Boss Bobby Jindal vs. state workers
Martha Manuel is not the first political appointee to be fired for criticizing a governor's policies. Bobby Jindal is not the first governor to be unpopular with state workers. (Shreveport Times)

NV: Workers union wants state benefits chief to resign
A state workers union is calling for the director of Nevada's Public Employee Benefits Program to step down. (AP / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

CO: Seniority, pay rules for state workers up for debate
State employees are under the microscope as the Colorado Legislature begins revising employee protections. (AP / Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

Hearing on Colorado personnel reforms turns testy
Things got heated during a legislative hearing Wednesday on proposals to attempt the most sweeping changes to Colorado's state personnel system in nearly a century. (Denver Post)

FL: Groups consider suits vs. state
Florida's burst of politically charged litigation shows no sign of abating as a variety of groups consider challenging two controversial laws passed by the Legislature last week. (Sarasota Herald Tribune)

US: Billion-Dollar Florida Battle Shows Pension Challenge
A court order forcing Florida to forgo $1 billion it planned to take from state workers to shore up its budget is the latest sign of the difficulty of reducing government-backed retirement benefits. Of 41 U.S. states that made significant pension changes in 2010 and 2011, at least 13 have faced court challenges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

OR: Vote to deauthorize AFSCME union local fails
A protest vote by state workers in an Oregon AFSCME local has ended in a tie, defeating a measure that could have cost the union some dues from non-members, union officials said Wednesday. (Salem Statesman Journal)

OR: Kitzhaber ends state hiring freeze
A three-month hiring freeze of state workers has ended, but Gov. John Kitzhaber and his top administrative officials have instituted a new freeze that is only slightly less restrictive but with a different aim. (Salem Statesman Journal)

Public unions invest heavily in Colorado elections
Public-sector unions, whose members are dependent upon decisions made by elected officials, were the state's top donors to committees that helped put those officials into office in 2010, according to a Denver Post analysis of state campaign data. (Denver Post)

SC House Democrats try to give employees a bonus
House Democrats tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to give South Carolina's public employees a one-time bonus in November, on top of the 2 percent raises called for in the House's budget plan for 2012-13. (The State)

NY: In Albany, Plan to Cut Pensions Takes Shape; Redistricting Moves Ahead
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders, seeking to limit the impact of soaring pension costs on government budgets, were putting the finishing touches early Thursday on a deal to reduce the retirement benefits promised to new city and state workers in New York. (New York Times)

W.Va. shorting pension, ex-Guard chief says
The longest-serving military chief of West Virginia's National Guard forces says state officials aren't being fair about his pension. (AP / Air Force Times)

MN: 'Right to work' battle over unions expands in Minnesota
The bitter fight over unions that has swept across the country in the past year is erupting in Minnesota, as legislators begin toiling over a controversial proposal that would alter the nature and diminish the might of organized labor in the state. (Scripps Howard / Independent Mail)

NH: Right-to-work backers gain support again
The New Hampshire House passed a so-called right-to-work bill yesterday for the second year in a row, but support was still well short of overriding a promised veto from Gov. John Lynch. (Concord Monitor)

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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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