The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 18, 2012
Legislative Analyst says 4-day week for California workers 'problematic'

The Legislative Analyst's Office said today that Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to move state workers into a 4-day, 9.5-hour-per-day schedule would create some serious problems.

The criticisms conclude a lengthy analysis of Brown's state budget proposal to close what the administration estimates is a $15.7 billion budget deficit (the LAO says it's more than that). Among the issues raised with Brown's furlough plan:

• Employees won't use as much leave, which will increase the state's deferred costs.
• It will hinder interaction with government agencies that operate on regular schedules.
• It may not reduce energy costs.

Then the analyst makes this comment about cutting employee costs:

Employee compensation, including salaries and benefits, will cost the state's General Fund $10.5 billion in 2012-13. Given the severity of the state's budget shortfall, we think the Legislature will need to consider reductions in these costs. There are, however, no ideal ways to achieve such reductions.

Why? Bargaining, the analyst said, usually means some sort of trade-off that negates savings. Layoffs take a long time and can adversely affect services. Furloughs and leave programs carry deferred costs (see above). The Legislature could impose pay cuts, but that "could require the administration to negotiate with unions for new contracts under the terms of the Dills Act. Unilateral state actions of this type may produce significant state savings, but pose many concerns. Such concerns include negative effects on employee-management relations."

The report also discusses the state's job vacancies and changes that Brown is proposing to the way the state budgets for positions, including eliminating vacant positions.

Click here to open the LAO's report. Scroll down to the "Employee Compensation" section for more analysis about Brown's plan for the 4-day workweek and vacant positions.

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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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