With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.
Our column in today's Bee about the state's struggle with big-picture data, included a reference to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's trouble with producing spending reports to the Legislature.
As we noted, Corrections produced the numbers on time this year. A shift in political winds helped.
GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budgets assumed deep department cuts, but didn't spell out how to hit the targets. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said when he came into office that his predecessor had been unrealistic. His administration budgeted more money to cover prison and parole costs. A plan to shrink the prison system through attrition followed.
Corrections officials have also said that the state's mini-run of delivering on-time state budgets since Brown took office has eased reporting pressures, too, by smoothing out payment schedules. Budget deadlocks under Schwarzenegger created accounting headaches because the department would have to withhold payments to vendors until lawmakers gave it the spending authority.
As the column mentioned, the department made changes in-house, too, including internal reorganization, accounting training for staff and improvements in its in-house financial data system.
PHOTO CREDIT: Concertina wire and a guard tower at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City / Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press 2011 file