The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 30, 2013
CalPERS retirements decline for first three quarters of 2013

The number of California state employees entering retirement is at its lowest level in four years, according to the latest CalPERS data, underscoring that the economic and political headwinds that once blew against government work have eased.

From January through September of this year, 8,035 state employees put in their retirement papers, the fewest for the nine-month period since 7,143 applied for their pensions in 2009.

September's 708 applications marked a 30 percent decline from a year ago and the lowest state retirements tally for the month since the pre-furlough days of 2008.

"I think it is a combination of the fact that a lot of employees have retired in the past few years coupled with the more positive tone that is currently permeating public finance in California," said Pepperdine state budget expert Michael Shires.

September 10, 2013
August retirement applications to CalPERS down slightly

The number of California state workers who applied for pensions declined less than 2 percent last month, according to CalPERS, but the retirement trend since January remains higher than in 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of all retiring CalPERS members -- state and local government, school district and special district employees -- rose nearly 12 percent in August. The number of all CalPERS retirements is up nearly 4 percent this year for the combined group of state and local government, school district and special district employees.

The gradual increase in the overall retirement numbers so far this year suggests that the slumping economy, furloughs that cut pay, layoffs, and (for local governments) early retirement incentives of a few years ago have washed through the government ranks. Still, employers expect to see the upward retirement trend continue as aging baby boomers head for the exits.

The state employee figures for the last few months of this year will bear watching as a bellwether for how a new round of raises negotiated with Gov. Jerry Brown will affect retirements. Will some workers who might have left with no prospect of a pay increase might decide to stick around enough for the higher pay to affect their pension checks?

Click here for detailed tables of month-by-month retirement application numbers tracked by CalPERS dating back to 2007. The fund counts applications from mid-month to mid-month. The last two weeks of December, when many state workers leave to take advantage of cost-of-living allowance rules, are counted in the January tallies.

August 30, 2013
Operating engineers' new deal costs state up to $54.9 million

130620-capitol-mall.JPGThe tentative agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and the union representing roughly 11,000 heavy equipment operators will add up to $54.9 million to the state's payroll costs, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

The two-year deal, like most Brown has negotiated with other unions over the last two months, relies on a fiscal trigger to determine whether the money will be split over two years or deferred to the last year.

One scenario for state workers in Bargaining Unit 12, who are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, provides a $1,200 bonus on July 1, 2014 (which equals 2.5 percent of the average wage for employees covered by the contract) and a 3 percent raise on July 1, 2015.

That, along with higher employer contributions to health insurance premiums and a few other minor non-wage increases, would cost the state $54.9 million, according to the LAO.

But if Brown says revenues in fiscal 2014-15 aren't sufficient to cover the bonus, union members will have to wait one year to get a 3.25 percent raise with no bonus. That plan would reduce the contract's three-year cost to $42.3 million.

That hits the high points of the IUOE deal, but if you want to get more deeply into the numbers and terms, here's the analyst's report:

August 19, 2013
CalPERS state retirements up this year despite July dip

The latest data from CalPERS show that the total number of state employee retirements this year continues to outpace 2012, even though July's total dipped by nearly 5 percent year over year.

So far, 6,643 state workers have applied to take their service pensions, up more than 2.8 percent from the same seven-month period a year ago.

The trend is the same among local government and school district employees in CalPERS. The fund has received 19,282 pension applications overall this year, representing an increase of almost 2.8 percent from 2012. (Click here for detailed spreadsheets with seven years of CalPERS retirement data.)

Experts say that the rate of public employee retirements is returning to normal levels after several years of budget crises, furloughs, layoffs, buyouts and uncertainty over pension benefits prompted some employees to retire early.

August 1, 2013
California state workers who retired in July at seven-year low

The number of California state workers who retired during the month of July is at a seven-year low, dropping 54 percent from its peak in July 2010.

However, while the summer monthly numbers have been lower than in previous years, the overall number of retirees for 2013 so far is higher than for the same period last year due to a large number of workers retiring at the beginning of the year.

So far 6,643 state workers have retired this year, a 2.8 percent increase over the same time period last year.

As baby boomers continue to leave the workforce, CalPERS has seen dramatic increases in the number of state workers who are retiring.

The past three years have seen an average of more than 10,900 state workers retire each year. That's up from the previous three years: From 2007 to 2009, an average of nearly 8,400 workers retired each year.

Across the entire CalPERS system, which includes state, local and school district employees, 19,282 workers have retired so far this year, also up 2.8 percent over the same time period last year.

We've embedded the latest spreadsheets and charts below, which include CalPERS data for state, local and school district pension applications and state-only applications. Applications are counted from mid-month to mid-month.

Here is the data:

May 30, 2013
Column Extra: California state retirement data details

As our State Worker column in today's fiber/cyber Bee notes, the pace of California state employee retirements is rising again due to a variety of factors. Some 5,086 state employees have put in their papers to retire this year, up from 4,809 last year.

January 31, 2013
Column Extra: More details about state employee moonlighting

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 and Wednesday's news report take a look at "additional appointments" in state government, using new job data from the State Controller's Office. The practice allows employees, including salaried staff such as managers, to work a second job within a department and earn hourly wages for it.

The data, embedded below, are listed in alphabetical order by department and grouped by individual employee. A state worker's primary position is a white row followed by his or her additional appointment in the highlighted row.

The spreadsheet reflects non-rank-and-file employees whose job record includes at least one additional appointment within the same department on Jan. 11.

January 24, 2013
Column Extra: Survey says many state-managers paid less subordinates

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 State Worker column in today's Bee looks at state manager pay and cites a survey of Association of California State Supervisors members that asked whether they earned more, less or the same as their subordinates. More than 40 percent of respondents said they earned the same or less.

Hat tip to the supervisor's group for sharing this survey tally sheet with The State Worker:

January 3, 2013
New LAO report dissects California state employee costs

So how much does California pay for state employee compensation? What is the state's running tab for retiree benefits? How many get a paycheck from the state?

The Legislative Analyst's Office answers all those questions and more in its new Cal Facts 2013 report, a compendium of public finance and program trends in California.

State Worker blog users will be most interested in pages 23 through 25, which deal with those state retirement liabilities, state employee compensation costs and the numbers of employees in various areas of government.

The LAO publication distills complex topics and trends into easy-to-understand charts and graphs. It's a go-to source for quick answers on everything from how many inmates transfer to state hospitals to renewable energy facts and state residents' average daily driving distance.

2013 Calfacts

October 3, 2012
California near bottom in government workers-to-residents ratio, tops in pay

California remains among the nation's cellar dwellers in its ratio of state and local government employees to residents, according to a new analysis by the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. Meanwhile, state workers here are, on average, the highest-paid.

The Golden State was fifth from the bottom in its number of full-time equivalent state and local government employees relative to population: 476 workers per 10,000 state residents. Nevada had the fewest (420 per 10,000) followed by Arizona (433), Mississippi (462) and Pennsylvania (465). Texas ranked No. 1 with 565 state and local government employees per 10,000 residents, 8 percent above the national average of 525.

September 27, 2012
California state worker retirements decline slightly

New CalPERS data show that the number of state workers who have entered retirement has fallen slightly from the first nine months of 2011.

The 8,171 employees who applied for their state pensions declined 3.3 percent to 8,454 during the first nine months of 2011.

September 20, 2012
Column Extra: More about unions' and business interests' political spending

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much 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 cites data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the path of political cash in California and other states, including money spent by labor unions and business interests.

We choose to look at contributions in 2010 for today's column because that's the last election year for which there is complete data. The institute uses quarterly reports from the California Secretary of State, so the figures for this year didn't include many of the biggest contributions for and against Proposition 32 that have come in since the end of June. Those numbers will be released early next month. We'll post them here.

On a related note, starting today we're tapping into an automatically-updated Proposition 32 contributions widget that will appear whenever we blog about the measure. The widget, left, comes courtesy of, another nonpartisan group that tracks political spending in California and elsewhere.

September 17, 2012
From the notebook: What California state workers pay in union dues and fees

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our story in today's fiber/cyber Bee mentions how much state workers paid in union dues and fair share fees for one month, December 2011: roughly $10.5 million.

What follows are three spreadsheets that lay out state workers' dues and fair share payments of that month, built from the state controller's payroll records. The first sheet details the number of employees by bargaining unit and their payments to their unions (it also pulls out numbers for the largest union, SEIU Local 1000). The second focuses on the percentage of dues and fair share fee payers in each unit. The third shows the regular pay and total pay by union.

August 24, 2012
Sacramento Bee updates California state worker pay database

Thumbnail image for 100830 checkbook2.gifThe Bee's Phillip Reese, who maintains our state worker pay database, has updated the site with $10.6 billion worth of 2011 salaries from the University of California system. Click here to access what has become the go-to source for publicly available state employee wage information.


August 10, 2012
California state worker July retirements fall to four-year low

The number of California state workers who applied for retirement in July fell 21 percent when compared with the same month one year ago, the second-largest decline in the rate of first-time pensioners in 2012.

Some 848 employees took their pensions, marking the fewest to do so in July since 2008, according to new CalPERS figures.

For the first seven months of this year, 6,460 state workers submitted their applications to retire, down from 6,975 from January through July 2011.

The dropoff last month is particularly significant because, as the chart above shows, more state workers retire in July at the state's fiscal year-end than any other month except January. CalPERS retirement application data runs mid-month to mid-month.

The decline in the retirement rate runs counter to conventional wisdom that state retirements should be on the rise as more and more baby boomers exit. Several factors contribute to the trend. Among them is the lingering impact of the furloughs of two or three days a month from 2009 to 2011, which contributed to a spike in retirements.

High unemployment in California and an agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000 to cut retired annuitant jobs have squeezed retiree job options and probably persuaded some employees to stick around when they might have left otherwise.

Scroll over the interactive chart above for more details. If you want to dive in more deeply, click the link below to open spreadsheets that include CalPERS retiree data for state workers and for all fund members from 2007 through last month.

August 7, 2012
Supervisors' group hits Steinberg on legislative staff pay raises

The Association of California State Supervisors wants Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to reverse staff raises, and it is rallying its members to write and call the Sacramento Democrat's offices to tell him so.

A post on its website titled, "Make Steinberg keep his word," noted that the state's No. 2 Democrat said this about public pension reform: "Will it cause some discomfort and unhappiness? Yes. Do you sometimes disagree with your allies and friends to do what you think is the right thing? Yes."

Then the organization, a nonunion advocate for state government managers and supervisors, performs a little political judo:

We couldn't agree with Sen. Steinberg's sentiment more: Doing the right thing sometimes causes discomfort and unhappiness.

That is why ACSS is calling on Sen. Steinberg to stop underhanded dealing to his allies and friends in the Legislature and start the difficult cuts he touts publicly by rescinding the raises he approved for employees in the Legislature after slashing your salary by 5%.

... Take a moment to let him know via email or calls to his office.

The supervisors' group is ticked over a recent Bee review of payroll records finding that at least 93 California legislative employees who earn more than $100,000 received raises this year and that more than 900 employees at all pay levels received pay hikes. The 120-member Legislature employs about 2,220 staff members.

That adds a bit of a sting for state workers whose pay and hours have been cut by nearly 5 percent since July 1. An ACSS poll of its members found that nearly six in 10 think the pay raises should be taken away.

July 9, 2012
CalPERS state employees retirement rate slows in first half of 2012

The number of California state workers retiring for the first six months of 2012 is down from this time last year, according to CalPERS data.

Through the middle of June this year 5,612 CalPERS members had retired, compared to 5,903 during the same period last year.

In the last three months, the retirement rate has remained fairly consistent with the same period last year. The number of California state workers drawing pension checks in June was down just .86 percent from last year. In April the number was down 2.79 percent. In May it was up 5.47 percent.

This marks a large change from March, when 61.48 percent more people drew pension checks than did so in March 2011.

In January, 28.21 percent fewer people retired compared to the previous year. This marked a significant change to the total number of retirees for the year because this January only 1,970 state workers retired, opposed to 2,744 in 2011 and 2,647 in 2010. Most state workers choose to retire at the end of the year, which counts in the January retirement figures.

In February, however, 45.7 percent more retired than the previous year.

Click the tabs at the bottom of the above spreadsheet to see more charts and data about CalPERS retirement figures.

Hannah Madans contributed to this report.

June 20, 2012
California's pension gap widened in 2010, research center says

California's public retirement systems' pension obligations were a combined $112 billion beyond the value of their assets in 2010, according to a report released this week, with anticipated retiree health costs adding another $77 billion in unfunded liabilities.

The study issued by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Pew Center for the States, says that the combined pension and health costs are both a cause for serious concerns.

California's total long-term retirement and health costs two years ago totaled $593.7 billion, according to data collected by Pew, but the funds paid just 75 percent of the recommended contribution into pension plans and 29 percent of what the state should have paid to fund retiree health benefits.

Experts generally agree that healthy pension funds keep their unfunded liabilities to 20 percent or less.

Nationally, states continued to lose ground in 2010 to cover the long-term costs. In fiscal 2010, states fell a combined $1.38 trillion short of having saved enough to pay their long-term retirement bills, up 9 percent from the year before.

May 17, 2012
Jerry Brown's furlough plan would drain Sacramento economy

The Bee's state pay database guru Phillip Reese has run the numbers on what Gov. Jerry Brown's four-day, 9.5-hours-per-day workweek would do to the Sacramento region's economy.

The annual impact: $230 million in wages taken out of circulation.

Click here to read the entire story.

May 1, 2012
California controller's office 'very close' to finalizing furlough back pay

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGThe State Controller's Office is "very close" to settling all the thorny issues connected with issuing furlough back pay to hundreds of current and former state workers, but some questions still need to be answered before the checks will be cut, according to a letter provided to The Bee that went out Friday to the affected departments.

The letter from the controller's office, which we've posted below, doesn't commit to a payment date.

According to the letter, the pay will be issued in one check and "subject to federal and state income tax using the flat tax method (25% federal tax and 6% state tax), retirement, Social Security, Medicare, and SDI if applicable."

The controller's office also will withhold garnishments and union dues or fair share fees from the checks.

It also looks like employees may be paid at different times, depending on how quickly their employers submit documentation. Payments will go out "within 10 working days from the date SCO receives the completed Furlough Settlement Pay Template from your department (further details regarding the template will be forthcoming)," the letter says. No word when that will happen.

April 20, 2012
California state worker retirements up for second straight month

The percentage of California state workers who filed to draw their first pension checks rose 61 percent in March compared with one year ago, according to new CalPERS' data, marking the second month in a row that more of them retired.

A total of 612 state workers retired in March. Still, the total number entering retirement in the first quarter of 2012 is down more than 8 percent compared with the first three months of 2011, owing to a big decline in January retirements this year.

CalPERS counts new retirement data from mid-month to mid-month. Owing to the rules that govern cost-of-living adjustments, more state workers retire at the end of the year than at any other time. Those retirements show up in the January figures.

By contrast, fewer state workers elect to retire in March than in any other month. February is the second-slowest month for inaugural pensioners. Relatively small shifts in retirement patterns during those months can produce big swings in the year-over-year percentages.

A total 1,704 state and local government and school employees with a CalPERS pension headed for the exits in March, up 41 percent from a year earlier. Since January, 8,605 CalPERS members have retired, down 9 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

Click tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet above to see charts and more data about CalPERS systemwide retirements.

April 19, 2012
California state workers' No. 1 college degree: Psychology

120420 Head.JPGAs this blog has mentioned from time to time, government workers are generally better-educated than the general population.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that about 40 percent of California state workers hold a bachelor's degree, compared with 30 percent of all adult Californians. (The statistic doesn't include college professors, administrators and teachers, who almost universally hold degrees.)

But The Bee's database guru, Phillip Reese, has gone one step further. He parsed the data and found that 6.6 percent of college-graduated state workers have a degree in psychology, more than any other major.

Click here for a chart that shows the 25 most popular majors among California state workers by the percentage of degrees held by state employees and by all adults statewide.

IMAGE: 2011 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

April 12, 2012
See what California state departments cut from 2011-12 budgets

So how much has your department cut its budget this year?

The Department of Finance table below shows how cuts for fiscal 2011-12 totaling $224 million are spread among 150 departments. The numbers reflect the savings targets set by Gov. Jerry Brown's hiring freeze order last year. Departments had to submit budget cut plans to the administration in order to resume hiring without administrative review by the governor's office.

Cuts included things like travel, equipment purchases, employee training and outside contracting. Some departments eliminated budget money they were holding to fill vacant positions.

Finance certified each department's budget cuts and issued instructions to the Controller's Office that holds them to the lower levels of spending, Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said during an interview for our Monday report on state hiring.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabiliation remains under the hiring freeze. The department is shedding jobs as it shrinks its inmate population and shifts its parole functions to local governments.

The table divides up the 2011-12 budget cuts into four categories:

April 11, 2012
How many unionized state workers are there, anyway?

One question that we're sometimes asked is, how many state workers are represented by a union?

The figure fluctuates daily. According to the latest State Controller's Office report to the Department of Personnel Administration, as of the end of last year, 181,822 state employees were represented in the 21 bargaining units that negotiate with the governor.

That count doesn't include the state's two university systems, the Legislature or the judicial branch, which all handle their own personnel matters.

Here's the tally by bargaining unit, denoted on the list as R01, R02, etc.:

March 19, 2012
From the notebook: A closer look at California state government jobs

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpg
We never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee looks at which state jobs are drawing the most applicants from outside government and why, using data compiled by the State Personnel Board, which administers eligibility examinations for state civil service positions.

Below you'll find the list of all 1,390 jobs for which at least one applicant was deemed eligible when SPB made its first data run for our story on Mar. 2. This is not a help-wanted list, but an accounting of how many people have been deemed eligible for consideration when a job on the list opens.

Want more details? Check out the state's one-stop, everything-you-need-to-know website,, where you can put a job title in a search engine and then click through to find out about pay ranges, tests, duties and minimum qualifications.

The state also keeps job eligibility lists totals online. Click here to look up the info, which can be sorted by job class and department. The figures are updated daily.

March 19, 2012
The incredible shrinking state workforce

The greater Sacramento area has lost state government jobs at a slower rate than California as a whole, according to a comparison of January payroll data over a two-year span.

The number of state pay warrants issued to employees working in Sacramento, El Dorado, Place and Yolo counties fell about 3.8 percent in January of this year compared the same month in 2010. Statewide the number of warrants fell 5.5 percent.

We made the comparison out of curiousity as we were reporting our Sunday state jobs story, which you can read by clicking here.

Here's the controller's pay data for January 2010, 2011 and 2012 and numbers for the four-county Sacramento region:

March 2, 2012
Atascadero State Hospital statistics detail assaults on patients, staff; facility fined for unsafe conditions

Report details assaults over past year at Atascadero State Hospital
In the first four months of 2011, more than 100 patients and staff members were assaulted at Atascadero State Hospital each month. But a report released to KSBY Wednesday shows the number of attacks is actually decreasing since the beginning of last year. (KSBY)

Atascadero State Hospital fined for safety violations
State safety investigators Thursday issued three citations totaling $38,555 against Atascadero State Hospital for unsafe working conditions for staff treating the facility's mentally ill and violent offenders. (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

March 2, 2012
Gasp! California state workers' PAC spends zip on lobbyists, lawyers, consultants in 2011

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

California Association of Professional Scientists, which represents approximately 2,500 state employees, gave a nearly $160,000 to its political action committee last year, which spent about $41,000 -- none of it on the lobbyists, attorneys or political consultants that usually rank high union expenditure lists.

(The union did spend about $172,000 on lobbying to Blanning and Baker Associates Inc. and Aaron Read & Associates LLC, but the money didn't come from the union's PAC account.)

The biggest CAPS PAC checks, $10,000 each, went to the California Democratic Party and to Californians for Health and Retirement Security (the pro-pension labor coalition now known as Californians for Retirement Security). 

As you look through the data below, remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations given to political campaigns and causes. Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet open tables with more detailed information of the union's political spending

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out The California data on that site run through December 2010.

February 28, 2012
See what money Professional Engineers in California Government's PAC received and spent in 2011

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

Professional Engineers in California Government's political action committee took in $1.3 million in contributions last year and spent $534,000. Of that, about $468,000 went to political campaigns and causes, including a total $180,000 to the California Democratic Party. Blanning Baker & Baker Associates, the union's principal consulting firm, received $34,500 with consultants Aaron Read & Associates representing the PAC's third-largest expense, $17,500.

PECG represents about 13,000 engineering professionals who design and inspect state highways, bridges and other construction projects.

As you look through the table below, remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations given to political campaigns and causes. Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet open tables with more detailed information of the union's political spending.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out The California data on that site run through December 2010.

February 24, 2012
The Bee's state worker pay database now upgraded and faster

120224 Steinberg pay.JPG

The Bee's state worker pay database has been upgraded with features that give the information more context and provide it more quickly.

The data now include state employee wage histories from calendar 2007 through the end of last year. Clicking on an individual's name pulls up their historical wages graphically in the context of the average pay in their department. Scrolling over the data points in the graph reveals specific info.

The information on the site shows up more quickly than before because The Bee's web developers streamlined its layout and used a Google product that loads faster.

The screen capture above shows the wage history of one elected state worker in the Legislature. Click here to open the pay database page.

February 15, 2012
Survey: Nearly 6 percent of California workers employed by state

map.jpgAbout six in 100 workers in California are employed by the state, according to a new Gallup Daily Tracking survey. The ratio more than doubles when federal and local government workers are included.

Some 5.6 percent of Golden State workers surveyed said they work for state government, the same percentage as Colorado. Thirty-six states had a higher percentage of workers who said they receive a state paycheck, led by Hawaii (12.6 percent), Alaska (11.5 percent) and West Virginia (11.2 percent).

On the other end of the spectrum, 4.8 percent of workers in Ohio and Maryland said they were state employees, followed by 4.4 percent in Pennsylvania and 4.3 percent in New Hampshire.

Nationally, 6.5 percent of the more than 129,000 American workers Gallup surveyed (including those in the District of Columbia) work for state government.

The statistic is somewhat misleading, however, because states distribute programs differently between federal, state and local governments.

By the larger measure, California ranked 33rd among the states with 15.3 percent of surveyed respondents saying they were government employees.

Nearly a third of workers in Hawaii, Alaska and the Maryland are in employed by government, the highest percentages in the nation.The lowest: Vermont, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which all hovered around 12 percent.

Nationally, 16.3 percent of American workers drew a government paycheck in 2011, a 1 percent decline from 2009. The job losses in the 50 states and the District of Columbia were spread equally over federal, state, and local governments and are consistent with Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Gallup said. Still, government employs at least 1 in 10 workers in every state.

Click here to see the government employment percentages for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This link opens Gallup's take on the numbers.

MAP: Courtesy Gallup

February 13, 2012
CA prison officers spent more than $1 million on political advice

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association paid a total $1.1 million to four political consultants and a political lawyer last year, according to documents the union filed with the state.

Media strategy firm The Battin Group (formerly Voter Strategies Inc. and run by former Republican lawmaker Jim Battin) topped the list with $342,000 from CCPOA., followed by $220,000 to J. S. Peace & Associates, which is headed by former state lawmaker and "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" producer Steve Peace.

Other CCPOA expenditures in 2011 included $200,000 to former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata's firm, Perata Consulting LLC, about $200,000 more to attorney Wayne Ordos and $157,000 to McNally Temple Associates Inc., another consulting firm.

The union also gave $100,000 to the California Independent Voter Project, a non-profit organization that offers to pay the expenses of state lawmakers who attend an annual Hawaii conference. Peace is one of the non profit's principals.

CCPOA, like many players in the political arena gave money to both sides of the aisle. Last year it wrote checks totaling $110,000 to the California Democratic Party and $25,000 to the California Republican Party.

By our count, the union controlled or wholly subsidized at least nine PACs, although not all of them took in or paid out money last year. Click here for a list that includes the committees.

We focused on the six most active PACS and subtotaled individual expenditures and contributions of the biggest accounts. Access those figures by clicking the "expend totals" or "contrib totals" at the bottom of some tables.

Expenditures pages show everything the association spent on political action, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations to campaigns and political causes.To get a sense of political spending in California by other interest groups, check out The California data on that site run through December 2010.

Here are the CCPOA numbers:

February 2, 2012
State worker pay database updated with 2011 information

After combing through the state controller's 2011 payroll data, The Bee's Phillip Reese reports this morning that

State government payroll increased by half a billion dollars last year, even as California cut thousands of state worker jobs, according to a Bee analysis of new data from the Controller's Office.

The payroll increase added about $140 million in wages to the Sacramento economy in 2011, contributing to a budding recovery.

The story, which you can read here, coincides with an update to the state worker pay database.

Click this link to open the pay search engine and scroll down to the notes below the "top salaries" list to understand the sources and boundaries of the data.

January 31, 2012
California state, local government workers among best-paid

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGCalifornia state and local government employees remain among the highest-paid in the nation, according to revised 2010 data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

DATABASE: State worker salaries

Full-time monthly pay for March 2010 in the District of Columbia averaged $5,900, followed by California at $5,774 and New Jersey' s $5,540. Nationally, the average pay for full-time state and local public employees was $4,388 for the March 2010 period sampled by the bureau.

The statistic divides a state's total payroll by the number of full-time equivalent employees. The District of Columbia is included because the data takes into account all government jobs below the federal level. The figures don't account for differences in cost of living.

California, the nation's most-populous state, also claimed about 1.8 million state and local government workers, a tad over one-tenth of the nation's non-federal government employees. Still, the Golden State's ratio of 478 state and local employees per 10,000 residents has been a cellar-dweller for years. The state employee-to-California resident ratio runs at about 110 per 10,000, which is also close to the nation's lowest.

Click here for U.S. Census' revised data summary. The link opens a spreadsheet that extracts the state-by-state totals from around the country.


January 27, 2012
Percentage of unionized California workers drifts down slightly

The percentage of employed Californians with a union affiliation fell slightly last year, according to new 2011 figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Our Capitol Bureau colleague Dan Walters sums up the state and national data on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

Click here for the Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry table, then scroll to the bottom to see the national public and private sector details.

This link will open the state-by-state look at the organized workforce vs. unorganized workforce.

The federal survey doesn't break down state union membership by private and public sectors.

December 29, 2011
Read the spreadsheet detailing California Assembly's pay hikes

More than 250 Assembly employees -- roughly one of every five people who work for the lower house -- received pay increases this month, as Jim Sanders reports in today's Bee.

We've put together a spreadsheet, below, of those awarded the increases.

You can search a master list, as well as lists of employees making more than $100,000 or less than $50,000, as well as the aides of Sacramento area lawmakers. You'll also find a list of those awarded the largest percentage increases.

The lists don't include employees who received a promotion and a commensurate pay increase.

Read the spreadsheet detailing California Assembly's pay hikes

December 27, 2011
The State Worker's Top 10 of 2011: No. 8 -- The Stanford study

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for countdown 8.JPG

Putting "Stanford," "study" and "pensions" in a headline guarantees an online traffic surge. An April 2010 post, "Stanford study: Public pensions a half-trillion dollars short," ranked as the 15th most-viewed State Worker blog item among the 1,000 we posted that year.

This year's follow-up to that report by Stanford University professor Joe Nation ranked even higher -- and if the subsequent fallout from the report is an indication, rankled public-pension supporters even more.

Here's the Dec. 13 post on the latest Stanford study, "Stanford study pegs California pensions' shortfall at $500 billion."

December 20, 2011
Number of California public-sector jobs up slightly in November

Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGNew employment numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning show that the number of government jobs at all levels in California last month rose very slightly from the same period one year ago.

The preliminary figures show that 2.43 million Californians worked for a public body last month, up 1 percent from a year ago.

Nationwide, the public sector had 238,000 fewer public-sector jobs last month than in November 2010.

Click here for the BLS news release. This link opens the BLS tables. Click this link to download a spreadsheet culled from the government employment numbers.


December 12, 2011
New public and private worker compensation figures released

111212 BLS chart.JPGThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported that:

Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $30.11 per hour worked in September 2011. Wages and salaries averaged $20.91 per hour worked and accounted for 69.4 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $9.21 and accounted for the remaining 30.6 percent. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $28.24 per hour worked in September 2011.

State and local government employers spent an average of $40.76 per hour worked for employee compensation in September 2011. Wages and salaries averaged $26.57 per hour and 65.2 percent of compensation costs, while benefits averaged $14.19 per hour worked and accounted for the remaining 34.8 percent. Total compensation costs for management, professional, and related occupations, which represent approximately half of all state and local government employment, averaged $49.37 per hour worked. Average hourly compensation costs were $30.86 for service occupations and $28.49 for sales and office occupations.

Click here for more info from the BLS Thursday report.

November 8, 2011
California Pension Reform hammers analysis of Brown's plan

California Pension Reform's Mike Genest has issued this statement about the LAO's review of Gov. Jerry Brown's pension proposals:

It is disappointing that the LAO omits the most critical flaw of the Governor's proposal: By his own admission his plan only solves $4-$11 billion of what is at least a $240 billion unfunded liability. While the Governor's plan has merits, it solves less than 5% of our problem. We need bold, comprehensive reform now and cannot continue to wait as politicians debate the issue and tinker around the edges.

California Pension Reform recently filed two ballot proposals with the attorney general's office for official title and summary. It hopes to start gathering signatures in January in hopes of qualifying one of the two measures for the November 2012 ballot.

October 31, 2011
From the notebook: Corrections has cut a fifth of executive jobs

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Prior to our Saturday Q&A with Matt Cate, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, we conducted several interviews with CDCR management. One of the questions that we asked during those discussions: With all of the job cutting at CDCR, how many Career Executive Assignments and exempt employee jobs has the department cut?

The department checked and got back to us. Here's the answer from part of an email sent last week by CDCR spokesman Paul Verke:

October 26, 2011
View Corrections' job vacancy and job reduction spreadsheets

As we reported last week, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is continuing to mail out some 26,000 layoff warning notices to employees with less than 10 years of service.

On Friday, the same day the initial 6,000 notices went into the mail, the department also posted a list of 3,416 positions it wants to eliminate and another 2,353 vacant positions throughout the far-flung department.

We took the lists on the CDCR website, converted them into Excel files and then sorted the data by job, facility or program and county. We've embedded those tables below.

After talking with Robert Downs, chief of CDCR's Office of Personnel, we want to pass along some important caveats to the data:

October 24, 2011
See savings estimates from California prison and parole shift

Our Saturday story about the first wave of 26,000 layoff warning notes going out to Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff included this sentence:

The state estimates shifting responsibility for some newly sentenced criminals to counties will save the corrections department about $453 million in this fiscal year and progressively more in subsequent years as the state prison and parole population dwindles.

Several readers over the weekend asked for more information. In response, we've embedded a Corrections/Department of Finance document below that outlines several prison and parole estimates, all keyed to an expectation that the state can shrink the current inmate population by 25 percent and the adult parole population by nearly two-thirds by fiscal 2014-15. The department's anticipated realignment savings that final year would be nearly $1.46 billion, or more than three times the savings officials think the policy will generate this year.

A few other points from the plan that jump out:

• The plan eliminates 3,700 out-of-state prison beds but keeps 8,000.
• It reduces CDCR academy funding to 400 correctional officers per year, about 800 fewer than leave service annually.
• The department started the 2011-12 fiscal year with 2,000 correctional officer openings.
• Correctional officer, nurse and physician assistant layoffs will be "mitigated through vacancy sweeps and attrition."
• The plan envisions laying off "most if not all retired annuitants."

October 7, 2011
California state employee retirements fall for fifth month in a row

111007 CalPERS retirements Sept.jpg
Fewer state workers are taking their first pension check this year than last, the latest CalPERS service retirement data show, although the number of new retirees remains well above 2009 levels.

As the graph above illustrates, 817 employees filed papers in September down nearly 15 percent from the 957 who applied in during the same month last year. The number of state workers who applied for retirement has fallen five months in a row when compared with the same period in 2010.

Some 8,454 state workers have entered retirement in 2011, off more than 11 percent from the 9,533 who retired during the first nine months of 2010.

Still, the number of employees retiring from state service is up 18 percent compared with two years ago when 7,143 state workers took their first pension checks from January to September. A total of 9,400 state workers retired in 2009.

Across all of CalPERS, 24,506 state and local employees have retired this year, down 7 percent from the first three quarters of last year.

The CalPERS data reflects the number of service retirement applications submitted from mid-month to mid-month, so the latest figures include the second half of August and the first half of September. Click here to download the data tables.

August 30, 2011
Feds release new state, local government employment data

Just in from The Bee's Dan Walters on our sister blog, Capitol Alert:

California's state and local governments employed more than two million full- and part-time workers in 2010, and they were paid about $10 billion a month, a new data dump from the Census Bureau shows.

Click here for Dan's post.

August 12, 2011
California pension study authors respond to criticisms

Editor's note, Aug. 14: A broken link to Brad Williams' response to CalPERS' and CalSTRS has been repaired.

The tension over pensions continued today with the authors of the just-completed "California Public Sector Retirement Programs and Compensation" defending their study after unions and the state's two biggest pension funds all criticized it.

In May, after Capitol Matrix Consulting and the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility released the first two parts of their report, CalPERS and CalSTRS took aim at it. Those harsh criticisms resurfaced this week in an e-mail blast issued by union coalition Californians for Retirement Security on Thursday.

110812 Genest.JPG"It's no surprise that such a sensitive issue would elicit such over heated rhetoric," said former state Finance Director and Capitol Matrix partner Mike Genest (left). "However, if you look at what CalSTRS and CalPERS actually say about the report, you will see that they do not make any substantive claims that fundamentally attack its conclusions and findings."

Click here to see what CalPERS said.
This link opens the CalSTRS reaction.
Clicking here will download the response by the report's principle author and Capitol Matrix partner Brad Williams.

PHOTO: Mike Genest, former Schwarzenegger finance director listens to a question at a Sacramento Bee and Capital Public radio panel discussion on the state budget on March 23. / Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee

July 28, 2011
State worker retirements down for third straight month

The number of state workers joining the CalPERS retirement roll was almost 40 percent lower in July 2011 compared to July 2010.

Nearly 1,800 workers filed for retirement last July, the largest spike in recent years in any month other than January. This year, 1,072 state employees filed for service retirement between June 16 and July 15.

CalPERS counts new retirement data from mid-month to mid-month, so many January retirees are people who retire just before the new calendar year and many July retirees are people who retire just before the new fiscal year.

Overall, the latest figures mean 6,975 former state workers have started collecting pensions through the first seven months of 2011. By this point last year, there were 7,660 new retirees on board. Across all of CalPERS, including local public sector workers, there have been more than 1,400 fewer retirements.

We reported on the June numbers yesterday. The full data table from CalPERS can be found here.

The chart below shows the overall increase in retirements among the state workforce in recent years as furloughs and other budget cutbacks merged with a large number of baby boomers beginning to hit retirement age.

July 27, 2011
CalPERS counts fewer state worker retirements in June

About 9 percent fewer state workers applied for retirement this June than in June 2010, but the total number of new state retirees so far this year has slightly outpaced the figure from the first half of 2010.

According to CalPERS data, 810 state workers filed for retirement between May 16 and June 15, compared to 892 during the same period last year. Overall, a dozen more workers -- 5,903 -- started collecting pensions in the first half of 2011 than in 2010. The fund's new retirement numbers run from mid-month to mid-month.

State workers account for only about a third of CalPERS members, however. Across the entire system, a total of 14,420 public-sector workers filed for retirement during the first half of this year -- 185 fewer than in the first half of 2010.

The chart below shows the overall increase in retirements among the state workforce in recent years.

View the complete data table from CalPERS here.

Check back tomorrow for July numbers, which appear to be significantly down from a record high in 2010.

July 26, 2011
California bucks national trends in law officers' deaths

RCB_20110502_MEMORIAL 0069.JPGCalifornia appears to be bucking two nationwide trends in deaths among law enforcement officers: a 14 percent rise across the country in the number of deaths from January through June and a spike in firearm-related deaths during the same period.

The preliminary data comes from the annual midyear report on officer fatalities from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which is available as a PDF here. So far this year, 98 officers have died across the country -- 12 more than in the first half of 2010. The fund's chairman Craig Floyd told USA Today that budget cuts are "putting communities at risk and officers at risk."

But in California, just four officers died between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year. That's down during the same period from nine in 2010 and six in 2009.

The statewide totals for those years: In 2010, 11 officers died in the line of duty; seven died in 2009.

July 5, 2011
Controller publishes state government and CSU payroll figures

The office of state Controller John Chiang has updated its salary database with pay, pension benefits and other compensation data for 256,222 state of California employees and another 123,406 California State University workers.

The site, which is updated weekly, also covers roughly 600,000 employees in California cities, counties and special districts plus elected officials at all government levels. The information, which is based on the 2009 calendar year, includes:

• Minimum and maximum salary ranges.
• Actual wages paid.
• The applicable retirement formula.
• Any contributions by the employer to the employee's share of pension costs.
• Any contributions by the employer to the employee's deferred compensation plan.
• Any employer payments for the employee's health, vision and dental premium benefits.

Individuals' names are not displayed on the website, which you can view by clicking here. You can see a list of government bodies that haven't provided information by clicking this link.

June 24, 2011
Union coalition hammers latest pension study

Californians for Retirement Security has blasted a new study that estimates public pension obligations will cost American households nearly $1,400 per year for the next 30 years. (We told you about the study in this Thursday post.)

The union coalition e-mailed a response to The State Worker this morning that we're posting here, unedited:

Friday, June 24, 2011
To: Jon Ortiz, Sacramento Bee
From: Californians for Retirement Security
Re: CRS response to Rauh Novy-Marx Study

Here is a response from Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, to the questionable projections in the Joshua Rauh and Robert Novy-Marx Study referenced in the State Worker Blog:

"This new study is based on unrealistic assumptions about the growth of the economy and questionable projections about public pension funds. The conclusion that a tax increase is needed to pay for pensions is pure fiction, and amounts to nothing more than a cheap scare tactic. There is no requirement that pensions be funded at 80 percent, and there is no requirement or financial argument that funds must be raised to pay any additional contribution this year. Pension funded status is not a static number, it fluctuates with the market, demographics, benefits and employee and employer contribution levels."

Meanwhile, Keith Brainard, of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, also takes the study to task. According to Brainard: "By vastly underestimating states' projected future contributions to their pension plans and their expected investment returns, the paper draws dramatic and improbable conclusions regarding the plans' solvency. The paper further ignores reforms already underway in the states that will restore sustainability to a far greater degree, and with far fewer costs and disruptions, than those proffered in the paper."

June 23, 2011
Study projects pensions will cost $1,398 per household annually

Well, here's another one.

A new study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Simon School of Business predicts that American households will have to contribute an average of $1,398 per year to fulfill public pension promises.

Click here for "The Revenue Demands of Public Employee Pension Promises," co-authored by Joshua Rauh of the Kellogg School and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Rochester. Rauh and Novy-Marx calculate the increases in state and local pension contributions that would be required to achieve full funding of state and local pension systems in the U.S. over the next 30 years.

The study also looks at what would happen if newly-hired employees were put into defined contribution plans and concluded the shift would reduce the per-household annual contribution to $1,223, or by about $175. In states with large numbers of workers outside the Social Security system, the savings is limited by the likelihood that those governments would have to start paying into Social Security and bearing most of the costs themselves.

The study's authors also looked at what would happen if new and existing workers were shifted into DC accounts. Under that controversial option, no earned benefits including cost-of-living adjustments are revoked, but defined benefit pensions stop growing with service and salary. Future contributions are placed into DC accounts. The DB-to-DC switch has been common in the private sector for decades, but would face an uphill legal battle if implemented in the public sector.

An across-the-board pension plan shift for new and current workers would reduce the average household contribution to about $800, Rauh and Novy-Marx figure, but even freezing all benefits at today's levels won't fix the unfunded liabilities that still need to be paid off.

Rauh and Novey-Marx have written plenty about pensions. (Here's another example of their work.) The New York Times briefly referenced the study in a pension story that ran earlier this week.

June 13, 2011
See the latest CalPERS retirement data

Fewer state workers applied for service retirement in May than a year ago, the latest CalPERS data shows, marking the third month this year that the rate has declined.

The numbers show that 822 state workers put in their paperwork between April 16 and May 15, down roughly 6 percent from the same period 2010.

So far, 5,093 state employees have entered retirement in 2011, compared to 4,999 who retired between January and May of 2010.

Although the year-over-year May and year-to-date numbers show slight change from 2010, they are still significantly higher than the same periods for 2007, 2008 and 2009, reflecting in miniature how the demographics of the aging workforce continue to impact the rate at which state workers are leaving.

For example, 3,192 state workers retired from January through May 2007 (which is as far back as the CalPERS data tracks) and just 7,778 retired that entire year.

And, as we noted in our State Worker column last week, Gov. Jerry Brown's February hiring freeze has slowed hiring significantly compared with the final months of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration.

(Of course, the state's use of retired annuitants and outside consultants isn't part of those figures. That's a topic for another day.)

Coincidentally, the rate at which all state and local CalPERS members retired increased a little over 7 percent in May to 2,007, as the data in the first table show. The state-only retirement figures are in the second table.

CalPERS' new retirement data run from mid-month to mid-month. The fund's active and inactive members include 1.1 million state, local and school employees. About a 31 percent of them are state workers. Another 500,000 or so retirees or their survivors receive a monthly allowance.
CalPERS service retirement applications January 2007 through May 2011

May 31, 2011
From the notebook: Patrol and correctional pay nationwide

We never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users data, notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what we published.

Our story in today's cyber/fiber Bee looks at the long-running competition between California's correctional officers and Highway Patrol officers for pay and respect. The story includes a chart that shows the current pay ranges for each occupation.

Several readers have called and e-mailed with the same question this morning: How much do people in other states earn for similar work?

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks that data, although it lumps local jobs with state jobs. The patrol class is part of police and sheriff's data. Correctional officers are grouped with local jailers. 

Depending on your point of view, it's a helpful comparison or an overbroad survey that fails to take into account factors such as California's relatively higher cost of living.

Here are a couple of BLS data tables that capture May 2010 pay, the most current information available. Clicking the links opens more tables and maps, on everything from metro area statistics to the national mean and median wages for each job group.

Top paying states for correctional officers and jailers:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New Jersey 11,340 3.01 0.84 $32.01 $66,590
California 44,120 3.15 0.88 $31.49 $65,500
New York 34,310 4.11 1.14 $27.15 $56,480


2,760 2.48 0.69 $26.81 $55,760
Illinois 11,990 2.17 0.60 $24.86 $51,700

Top-paying states for police and sheriff's patrol officers:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage 
New Jersey 22,830 6.06 1.20 $38.13 $79,300
California 75,730 5.41 1.07 $37.16 $77,290
District of Columbia NA NA NA $32.48 $67,560
Illinois 30,110 5.45 1.07 $32.06 $66,680
Nevada 4,790 4.30 0.85 $31.66 $65,840

May 12, 2011
CalPERS blasts 'flawed' public pension report, proposals

CalPERS says a report issued last week that questions the sustainability of defined-benefit public pensions is "flawed" and that various fixes it considers are either inequitable or illegal.

The fund is firing back at "Comparing Public and Private Employee Compensation and Retirement Benefits in California," commissioned by the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, a pension-change advocacy organization based in Citrus Heights.

The study by Capitol Matrix Consulting, a firm co-founded by former state Finance Department Director Mike Genest, says that California's state and local government employees' pay is roughly equal to counterparts' salaries in the private sector, but pension and health benefits push public workers' total compensation costs about 10 percent higher.

It considers several options proposed by the foundation to close that gap, such as eliminating health benefits for spouses and dependents of retirees when a retiree turns 65 .

CalPERS says the report makes flawed assumptions, uses flawed methods, lacks specifics and takes a race-to-the-bottom, anti-pension posture. The fund's reply is embedded below and was just posted on the CalPERS Responds website.
CalPERS' Key Observations of CFFR Study

May 12, 2011
Column Extra: Cutting the education budget

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 mentions how the state's funding for K-12 and community colleges has taken hits for the last several years. We've fielded some emails this morning asking where we got the numbers in the column.

The figures came from H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance. Palmer sent the 16-slide PowerPoint presentation below that lays out the budget situation. Slide No. 13 shows the cuts to education.
Budget Discussion

April 27, 2011
Report: Public pension, health care gaps grew in 2008-09

California public pension funds had a combined $490 billion in obligations in fiscal 2008-09 and enough assets on hand to cover 81 percent of those promises, according to a new report.

But the state's overall public employee retiree health care liabilities reached $66.6 billion with virtually no money set aside for those future obligations, according to the survey by Pew Center on the States.

"The Widening Gap: The Great Recession's Impact on State Pension and Retiree Health Care Costs" also says that California should have paid $12.4 billion into its public retirement funds that year but paid only about 82 percent of that.

The Pew analysis drew immediate criticism from unions and researchers who support defined benefit public pensions for using outdated figures that include the nadir of the national financial crisis, the September 2008 banking crisis and stock market meltdown.

April 15, 2011
Where to find CalPERS information

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100607 CALPERS HQ.JPGWe get questions all the time from blog users about CalPERS: How many employees are members? How much does CalPERS pay out in benefits? What's the split between state and local governments in CalPERS? How many different retirement formulas apply to retirement benefits?

You can find those answers and much more via the fund's "Facts at a Glance" page, which has links to a half-dozen fact sheets about CalPERS. The sheets are regularly updated, although some of the information is nearly two years old.

While we're addressing this, here are a few numbers:

April 13, 2011
From the notebook: The BOE office documents (part 2)

We never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in Tuesday's Bee looked at recent office moves planned by Board of Equalization members Jerome Horton and George Runner. Horton's intended move from the 9th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower to the same building's 25th story didn't happen. Runner's move from the Wells Fargo Center to the Bank of the West Tower is still on after he whacked the board's improvement costs in half.

After you've read the story for context, check out these documents for more details about Runner's move:

The Feb. 24 estimates of tenant improvement costs beyond what the landlord would cover for the 17th floor of the Bank of the West Tower.

The Nov. 4 letter from the BOE's Christine Demes to James Koerner at DGS to arrange a tour of 500 Capitol Mall for Runner and asking that the former senator not pay for parking when he arrives there.

A Dec. 3 letter from Demes to Koerner about cutting costs by moving desks from other parts of 500 Capitol Mall instead of having desks built.

A Mar. 8 revision of tenant improvement costs. (Runner has since cut another $14,000.)

The unexecuted lease agreement for 500 Capitol Mall.

April 12, 2011
CalPERS report says fund has $17 billion invested in California

110412 PERS chart.JPG
CalPERS has released a report that highlights its investments in California, which accounted for about $17 billion of the system's $200.5 billion in assets last year.

"CalPERS for California," presented Monday to the fund's investment committee, notes that the largest slice of Golden State investment, some $6.1 billion, was in public companies. Of those, 644 have California headquarters that accounted for an estimated 700,000 workers statewide. The chart above shows the largest fund holdings in that category.

The report is a snapshot of CalPERS investments in the state as of June 30, 2010.

GRAPHIC: "CalPERS for California 2010" / CalPERS

April 12, 2011
From the notebook: The BOE office documents (part 1)

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee looks at recent office moves planned by Board of Equalization members Jerome Horton and George Runner. Horton's intended move from the 9th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower to a top spot on the same building's 25th story is dead. Runner's move from the Wells Fargo Center to the Bank of the West Tower is on, after he cut costs and spread payments for part of the upgrades over four years of the eight-year lease.

After you've read the story for context, check out these documents for more details about the Horton plan:

Building improvement costs for the 25th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower

The Feb. 24 e-mail from Patti Joseph, DGS' Sacramento leasing manager, raising questions about the cost of the office space improvements. Includes Feb. 28 response from Liz Houser, BOE deputy director of administration that costs are reasonable and the improvements are "necessary for program operations."

The Mar. 10 e-mail from Houser that says the improvement costs are "not acceptable."

The unexecuted lease that the state declined to sign for the top floor space at U.S. Bank Tower.

We'll post some Runner documents later.

April 4, 2011
Analyst publishes review of engineers' and scientists' MOUs

Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGThe Legislative Analyst's Office has published its review of the tentative agreements reached with California Association of Professional Scientists and with Professional Engineers in California Government.

This review, like those before it, says that the administration has overstated the contract's cost savings for the current fiscal year and that the savings for 2011-12 are about 6 percent, short of the 8 percent to 10 percent in contract savings that Gov. Jerry Brown has said that he needs.

The Department of Personnel Administration's savings estimates don't include a provision that it negotiated later with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and then applied via a March 30 memo to the five units that reached deals with Brown. The provision gives cash value to personal leave program time.

The analyst published its analysis of the contracts on Friday. That same day, DPA sent the CCPOA contract to the LAO for review. The analyst has 10 days to issue its review of the deal, although we expect it will finish earlier.

Here's the fiscal analysis of the contracts for units 9 and 10:

March 31, 2011
LAO: Union contracts ramp up pressure for layoffs, hiring freeze

Contracts recently negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration don't come close to saving the state enough money, placing "greater pressure on the administration to achieve employee compensation savings through other administrative actions, such as hiring freezes, furlough programs, and layoffs," an internal state memo says.

The memo sent Wednesday from the Legislative Analyst's Office to the Senate Republican Budget Committee, embedded below, estimates that the contracts will produce only about one-third of the $308 million in general fund savings that Brown proposes in his budget.

Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the union coalition Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security, sent The State Worker an e-mail with this take: "This memo is another strong dose of pension reality. For all the alarmist political attacks on public employees, this shows that they are making significant concessions to get us through this economic crisis."

The LAO, which not long ago suggested that lawmakers impose pay cuts to save money, bases its MOU cost estimate on a review of the ratified or tentative memoranda of understanding reached with 19 of the state's 21 bargaining units. As of Wednesday, the LAO hadn't received the details of deals reached with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association or the International Union of Operating Engineers (Unit 13).

Will Republicans hold up a legislative vote on the tentative MOUs? It's happened before.
Legislative Analyst's Office memo regarding state labor contracts, Mar. 30, 2011

March 31, 2011
New report says public employees aren't overpaid

110331 Compensation chart.JPG
A new report concludes that public-sector employees' compensation lags that of private-sector workers when education and experience are factored in. The trade-off: Public-sector jobs remain more secure, and health and pension benefits are generally better than in the private sector.

"Getting It Right: Empirical Evidence and Policy Implications From Research on Public-Sector Unionism and Collective Bargaining," by David Lewin, of UCLA's Anderson School of Management, and Thomas Kochan, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, also includes research from a half-dozen professors from around the country who are part of the Employment Policy Research Network.

For example, the chart above comes from page 5 of the report, refers to work by Jeffrey H. Keefe, associate professor of labor and employment relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. His work countered Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's claim that state employees there are overpaid.

Still, the paper recognizes that states face serious budget problems and that labor-management dynamics need to change. Among the researchers' suggestions:

  • Perform an evidence-based analysis of wages, benefit costs and funding arrangements for state employees.
  • Use the findings for state public-sector summit meetings to clarify and define the issues and problems that need immediate attention, and use problem-solving tools such as interest-based negotiations and mediation-arbitration to agree on statewide "grand bargains" that address the most critical budget problems and are fair to both taxpayers and employees.
  • Charge a broadly representative group to carry out evidence-based analysis to modernize public-sector collective-bargaining practices
March 28, 2011
State and local government employee income down last year

In case you missed it last week, Bee colleague Phillip Reese pulled some California data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that shows state and local government employees' personal income fell 2.6 percent last year.

Construction workers took the biggest hit, with income down 10.4 percent. Personal income for employees in the finance industry dropped 2.2 percent.

Other industries saw pay increases, from manufacturing (up 1.8 percent) to technology (up 5.8 percent).

Click here to view Phillip's interactive graphic over at The Public Eye blog.

Hat tip to long-time Blog User K for the friendly reminder about this data.

February 16, 2011
More data about state cell phone use

Still haven't had enough about how much the state has spent on cell phones and computer aircards? You're in luck. Here are a few spreadsheets from the Department of General Services that show the 2010 number of wireless lines serviced by Verizon and Sprint, the two largest carriers, and the trends going back to 2005-06:

Summary of 2010 Sprint and Verizon wireless lines, by department
Verizon historical line totals and costs, summary and by department
Sprint historical line totals and costs, summary and by department

February 8, 2011
Dueling studies: The Michigan public employee pay reports

Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGMichigan's new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is pushing to cut state employee compensation, arguing that the state work force is overpaid relative to what private sector workers earn. Late last month his office released a 25-page document on state spending, "Dollars and Sense: How State and Local Governments in Michigan Spend Your Money." Click here to download it.

The booklet includes a brief section, starting on page 12, about the the cost of local and state government employees and public school teachers, then narrows the compensation focus to state employees versus private sector employees and concludes:

In 2000, average public sector compensation was 55% higher than average private sector compensation. In 2009, state classified employee compensation was 113% higher, on average, than the private sector. However, this analysis does not compare private and public sector employees with similar jobs, years of experience or education.

While the first sentence seemed to get all of the attention for a few days, the second sentence can't be ignored. A few days later, a study released by Jeffrey H. Keefe, associate professor of labor and employment relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. drew a different conclusion. Here's the intro to "Are Michigan State Workers Overcompensated?"

February 7, 2011
State workers collect tons and tons of food

Thumbnail image for 110128 Food Drive.JPG

Question: What do all of these have in common?

>> The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome roof.
>> Sixty-two small school buses.
>> Three adult blue whales.
>> All the food and cash donated by state workers to the California Emergency Foodlink.

Answer: They're all roughly equal to 620,000 pounds.

From Nov. 1 to Jan. 3, state workers rounded up 290,000 pounds of food and $124,000 in cash donations to purchase groceries. Taken together, the charitable gifts equal 310 tons of goods, enough to fill 15 semi trucks, according to this Foodlink release. The donations will go to 130 charitable organizations in the greater Sacramento area. To see a breakdown of donations by department, click here.

Nice job, state workers!

February 7, 2011
State worker retirements jumped 23 percent in 2010

110207 CalPERS state worker retirements.JPG

Nearly 12,000 state workers drew their first pension checks last year, up 23 percent from 2009, according to the latest retirement application data from CalPERS (click on the table above to enlarge it).

The jump in the rate of employees leaving state service was likely due to a mix of factors: Furloughs that cut take-home pay by nearly 15 percent made working less profitable than retirement for some state employees. The state's civil service is weighted toward baby boomers, many of them now reaching retirement age.

More people, 2,744, retired in January of this year, the most of any single month tracked by CalPERS going back to 2007. Although that was not quite a 4 percent year-over-year bump, it was significant because the increase was on top of a large base number - 2,647 retirements in January 2010.

Up to a quarter of retiring state employees time their exits for the end of the year, which spikes the number of first-time pensioners each January. CalPERS rules delay initial pension cost-of-living adjustments until the May following a retiree's first full calendar year away from service.

January 24, 2011
Union membership falls in California and nationally

The percentage of U.S. workers who were union members fell again last year, according to new data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, California's union membership ranks fell slightly, although the percentage of Golden State union members increased owing to heavier employment losses in non-union jobs,

Nationally, the rate of wage and salary workers who were union members dropped to 11.9 percent, down from 12.3 percent in 2009, according to this press release. The number of employees belonging to unions declined by 612,000 to 14.7 million.

By comparison, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers in 1983 when the government started tracking the trend.

The percentage of union members in local, state and federal government jobs fell from 37.4 percent to 36.2 percent. Union membership in the private sector dropped from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent. Click here and scroll to the bottom for more national data about public sector unions.

California's union membership rate went from 17.2 percent in 2009 to 17.5 percent in 2010, according to this table released on Friday.

Although the number of union members in the Golden State fell by 22,000 -- a decline of about 1 percent to that subset -- California shed about 3 percent of workers who weren't union members or represented by a union. That raised the percentage of union members in the state, even though their actual numbers fell.

January 18, 2011
Legislative Analyst launches video primer on the state budget

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor explains the state's finances in a new 10-minute video titled Introduction to the California Budget (above). The topics include the difference between general and special funds, the state's major sources of revenue, and the state's largest categories of expenditure.

The video is part of a new initiative by the Legislative Analyst's Office to broaden its reach. It now has an LAO_CA Twitter account and has started a new section on its website that explains fundamental issues and concepts.

December 20, 2010
Report: States' tax revenue up slightly, outlook still grim

101220 Rockefeller tax revenues.JPG

A new report shows that state tax collections around the country increased in the third quarter of this year, although the rising revenue tide has been slow to wash out to the West.

Data from 48 early-reporting states (see map, above) and analyzed by the Rockefeller Institute of Government shows July, August and September collections from major tax sources rose by an average 3.9 percent , compared to the same period last year. California's tax revenues increased 0.6 percent, the report says.

But don't clink the champagne glasses yet: State collections for third quarter were still down 7 percent from the same stretch in 2008.

December 9, 2010
Read the Poizner report and the report that inspired it

Visionary Leadership: Innovative Results, Four Year Summary Report 2007-2011

Eagle-eyed Worker blog users caught our Wednesday short short story about a new report from the Department of Insurance that hails Commissioner Steve Poizner for doing a great job. Several readers asked that we post the report, which we have Scribd above.

Poizner has precedent on his side. Former Insurance Commish John Garamendi rolled out a similarly self-laudatory report when he left the job. Click here to read "Legacy of Leadership: Insuring Consumer Protection, Outreach and Advocacy."

November 18, 2010
State hired, promoted 477 executives in 2009 and 2010

From January 2009 through September of this year, California's state government hired or promoted employees to 477 career executive positions, according to figures provided by the State Controller's Office.

All but two of those jobs were full-time. The median monthly pay for employees assuming those posts: $8,616. The average monthly pay: $9,129.

The pace for executive hires and promotions in calendar 2010 quickened compared with 2009. Last year the state placed or promoted 230 employees into executive jobs, compared with 246 in the first nine months of this year.

Of those hired or promoted in 2010, 14 became effective on or after Schwarzenegger Cabinet Secretary Scott Reid clamped down on hiring.

Some of the increased executive hiring and promotions may be a result of a state worker rush to retirement prompted by furloughs, recent increases to employee pension contributions or demography. For example, a state audit last year estimated the government could lose 13,000 managers and supervisors to retirement by 2016, close to half of the employees at that level.

Click here to download the controller's numbers.This document defines the various columns of data on the spreadsheet.

November 18, 2010
Column Extra: The CalPERS retirement numbers

Space constraints limit our State Worker column on Thursdays to roughly 425 words, so much of what we learn in the ramp-up to writing never sees print. Column Extras give State Worker blog users more information -- the notes, the quotes, the data and the documents that inform the weekly feature.

Our column in today's fiber/cyber Bee looks at the rise in state employee retirements this year. Below, two tables show CalPERS first-time retirement checks issued over the last few years. The first table shows initial pension checks to all fund members. The second distills state worker numbers.

Note the state worker increase in July 2010. You can figure most of those new retirees applied 30 days to 60 days before they received their first check.

CalPERS Retirements Through October 2010

November 17, 2010
New report shows decade of state retirement changes

101117 Pew pension map.JPG Editor's note, 2:40 p.m.: The Pew map shows legislative changes to pensions tracked by the National Conference of State Legislatures. It doesn't include recent contractual changes mandated for exempt and excluded employees or union contracts ratified by the California Legislature that require that state workers make increased contributions to their pensions.

State pension rollbacks have gained momentum nationwide, according to a report released this morning by The Pew Center on the States.

"Roads to Reform: Changes to Public Sector Retirement Benefits Across States," notes that in the first 10 months of this year, 19 states moved to reduce their pension liabilities by cutting benefits, upping employee contributions or both. Last year, 11 states made similar changes, up from eight in 2008.

As the map above from the Pew report shows, 39 states have cut their pension costs in some fashion since 2001. This link opens an interactive map that shows the last decade of changes year by year.

States also are changing retiree health benefit plans, the report notes: "All these states have acknowledged that the costs they face for these benefits have diverged from what they have been willing or able to pay and have started to take the steps to bring them back in line."

Pew's report, which you can read by clicking here, also includes state-by-state summaries of pension and retiree health benefits changes.

November 12, 2010
State workers' job injuries nearly double private workers'

State government workers had much higher rates of work-related injuries and illnesses than private-sector workers last year, according to a new federal report that segregates public employee occupational ailments.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the rate for nonfatal workplace sickness and injury that required time off from work as 180 cases per 10,000 full-time state workers, compared with 106 per 10,000 private sector employees. The state worker rate was unchanged from 2008.

The rate for local government employees was highest, 185 per 10,000, essentially the same as last year. For all workers, public and private, the rate was 117 per 10,000, down 5 percent from 2008, according to the the bureau's report.

The drop in the overall rate of work-related injury and illness reflects to some degree the nation's high unemployment rate, which doubled from 5 percent in January 2008 to 10 percent in December 2009. Last month the national unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for the third month in a row.

Jobs with the most injuries and illnesses included transit and intercity bus drivers (736 incidents per 10,000 FTE), police and sheriff's patrol (603), emergency response workers (511), nursing aides and orderlies (456), correctional officers (446) and firefighters (442).

The BLS release with the data follows. Use the tools at the bottom of the Scribd display to enlarge and search the document or to tile the pages.

Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

November 9, 2010
Web site breaks out political spending by private, public interests

Here's a website that State Worker blog users who are into following political spending will want to check out:

Dan Walters, the dean of Sacramento political reporting, referenced it in a recent post on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

MAPLight follows money that flows to the California Legislature and the U.S. Congress by interest group . It also makes connection between the contributions and lawmakers' votes.

Unlike the Secretary of State's campaign finance website, MAPLight is fairly intuitive and lets you parse info a number of ways. The downside: The data lags. Info about contributions to legislators stops at June 30 of this year.

Click here to open MAPLight's home page. This link will open a chart of California political spending by interest group. You also can search the database by nine different criteria. Click here to access the contributions search page.

November 8, 2010
Blog back: Price per prisoner; private prisons' political payouts

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Nov. 5 Corrections contracts out-of-state facilities for 2,600 inmates

Here's a brief comment/conversation that starts with a suggestion/criticism and ends with ... well, you'll see:

And just what does this cost me as a tax payer? How about some numbers Ortiz? What's (sic) the costs to outsource to another State (Cost Per Bed) in regards to the actual costs to house inmates in a California State Prison? I know the overcrowding is an issue however, is this the most cost effective way to resolve the overcrowding? Let's do some reporting and state the facts and numbers......

We should have included the costs in the post.

For the record, the GEO Group agreement is to house 2,600 prisoners at $60 million per year. That rounds out to about $23,000 annually per inmate. The four-year contract starts in 2011.

Talks with Corrections Corp. of America aim to ship nearly 2,400 more California inmates out of state, besides the nearly 10,000 it currently houses. The two-year contract will cost $300 million annually, or about $24,000 per inmate.

California's per-inmate housing cost in 2008-09 was roughly $47,000, according to this Legislative Analyst's Office report.That was among the highest in the nation.

If you really want to dig into the topic, check out this report by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project. It's a tad dated, but interesting nonetheless.

Moving on ... Apparently, some users are still bothered over our recent series of posts on unions' political spending.

November 3, 2010
Read correctional union official's testimony about spending, revenue

As we reported last week, documents aren't publicly available that detailed the California Correctional Peace Officers Association's budgets and balance sheets in an Oct. 22 federal court hearing that produced a $10 million punitive damages verdict against the union. (That was in addition to about $2 million in actual damages the jury concluded CCPOA should pay.)

But the transcript of the Dawe v. CUSA, CCPOA hearing wasn't shielded. The State Worker acquired 60 pages of key testimony. They're posted below.

The conversation touches on a number of subjects, such as the decline of CCPOA's net worth; homes, cars and sports season tickets it has purchased; the union's employee payroll costs; property it owns in Southern California; member dues; the union's legal costs; it's fight with the state over union paid leave; unspecified political spending and more.

Before you start reading, here's the cast:

Mr. Nicolaysen - CCPOA chief financial officer Jeff Nicolaysen
Mr. Baxter - plaintiff Brian Dawe's lawyer Daniel Baxter
Mr. Mastagni, Sr. - David Mastagni, Sr., attorney for CUSA and CCPOA
Court - federal Judge Lawrence Karlton

101101 Jeff Nicolaysen Testimony

November 1, 2010
Caltrans director says department's performance 'extraordinary'

101029 McKim.jpgIn a recent message to department staff, Caltrans Director Cindy McKim praises them for cranking out their work despite furloughs and staffing cuts. The comments appeared in a "Director's Corner" piece for the October edition of Caltrans News. Here's the top of the column:

In 2009-10, Caltrans once again posted impressive achievements toward our goal of improving mobility across California. We delivered 99.3 percent of projects included in our contracts for delivery, obligated all available federal dollars, paved 3,936 miles of highway, and authorized 1,664 state and local construction projects for available federal funds. All of these achievements are remarkable. But with the fact that we did this in the face of furloughs, understaffing, and operating expense reductions, the achievement is elevated from remarkable to extraordinary!

Click here to read the rest.

The Caltrans employee who flagged the item for The State Worker sent it with this comment: "Please look at this. We are working our butts off and no one seems to know. I appreciate the message from our Director, but she's preaching to the choir."

McKim's message and the e-mailer's insight prompted us to think about "attaboys" from management. We want to know what you think. Take our poll:

PHOTO: Cindy McKim /

October 25, 2010
State Worker on radio today to talk about public employee pay

100610 microphone.JPGWe've been invited to join a discussion about the politics of public employee pay on "Air Talk" with host Larry Mantle this morning from 10 to 10:30. As we understand it, we'll be a third party in a roundtable with two other guests who will take opposing points of view on the topic.

"Air Talk" is produced by and broadcast on Southern California Public Radio stations KPCC (FM 89.3), KUOR (FM 89.1), KPCV (FM 90.3) and streamed online here. You can catch the archived broadcast here, if you miss the live show.

The radio station reached out to us because of today's column by our Capitol Bureau colleague, Dan Walters, that looks at some data we ran about the number of state and local government workers in California and elsewhere.

Click here to download the spreadsheets that contain U.S. Census figures for 2005 and 2009.


October 22, 2010
CCPOA airs its finances in federal court hearing

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgThe California Correctional Peace Officers Association owns two homes in Sacramento, bought half the seats in an Arco Arena luxury suite as well as season passes to the local Triple A baseball team and purchased eight new vehicles last year, according to a federal court hearing this morning.

The inside glimpse into how the prison officers' union has spent its money was part of the punitive damages phase of Dawe v. Corrections USA, CCPOA, et al.. CCPOA is already on the hook for $2.3 million in damages after a jury on Monday found it guilty of defamation. Now the jury must determine how much in punitive penalties, if any, CCPOA will pay after losing the 3-year-old case in Sacramento.

(This is a very complex case, as evidenced by this 27-page verdict. For more background than we can share here, click here for Brian Dawe's side of the story and click here for CCPOA's version. )

Among the union financial figures presented at the morning hearing:

October 20, 2010
Milken report: Demographics will strap California pension funds

The Santa Monica-based Milken Institute has released a report that says the aging public employee population's increased draw on pensions as baby boomers retire, combined with growing demands for educating the state's children in the coming years, is putting California in a fiscal vise.

The researchers also conclude that raising employee contributions will be less effective over time because the ratio of actively contributing members to benefit recipients will continue to decrease.

"Addressing California's Pension Shortfalls: The Role of Demographics in Designing Solutions," which Bee's Dan Walters writes about in more detail in this Capitol Alert post, comes just two days after the release of another study that concludes state public employees aren't overcompensated compared with the private sector. Click here for our post about "The Truth about Public Employees in California: They are Neither Overpaid nor Overcompensated."

October 19, 2010
Studies disagree about California public employee compensation

The title of a new study released on Monday by UC Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment says it all: "The Truth about Public Employees in California: They are Neither Overpaid nor Overcompensated."

Cal economist Sylvia A. Allegretto and Jeffrey Keefe, an associate professor of labor and employment relations at Rutgers University, found that state and local government employees are paid about 7 percent less than private sector employees when adjusting for factors such as education and experience.

The Berkeley report opens with this comment:

September 30, 2010
Column Extra: Read the research that used Bee's pay database

Space constraints limit our State Worker column on Thursdays to roughly 400 words, so much of what we learn in the ramp-up to writing never sees print. Column Extras give State Worker blog users more information -- the notes, the quotes and the documents that inform the weekly feature.

Part of today's State Worker column looks at a new report on the impact of wage information on employees. The research used The Bee's state worker pay database to gauge how knowledge of colleagues' pay affected workers at University of California campuses in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego.

Click here to read the report by researchers David Card, Alexandre Mas, Enrico Moretti and Emmanuel Saez.

September 1, 2010
From the notebook: More about state employee suicide

Much of what we learn as we report news stories about state work force issues never sees print. From the notebook blog posts give you notes, quotes and details that inform the writing.

Last week's story on the increase in workplace crisis counseling triggered by state employees' suicides prompted hundreds of online comments, about 150 e-mails and many telephone calls. Some blasted the piece for failing to get more specific about state employees who died by suicide. Those critics felt that the story was soft and missed a chance to have greater impact.

Many more readers said in e-mails and phone calls that they felt that the piece aimed to cast state employees in a sympathetic light. Here's an example of an online comment leveling that charge:

If you compared the private sector to government work force I bet you would find the numbers 10 times more, but of course the Sacbee didn't want to mention that fact and instead is pushing an agenda again.

Early drafts of the story contained state and national data, but the information lags by up to three years. Using those figures for context isn't very useful. Still, in the interest of giving readers of this blog extra info that informs the stories that we write, here are two tables that reveal state and national suicide data for residents over age 18:

September 1, 2010
From the notebook: State hiring patterns in 2010

100831 calculator.JPGAs we reported Tuesday on this blog and again today (with a bit more detail), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday told agency and department heads to clamp down on hiring. In January, the governor ordered departments to cut their payroll costs by 5 percent. Apparently, he wasn't happy to find out on that state government hasn't appreciably shrunk.

(To be fair, twice the number of state workers retired as were hired to full-time permanent positions from January 2009 through June of this year.)

After learning of the governor's meeting, we decided to take another run at the new-hire data used in our Monday report to answer some new questions:

August 30, 2010
From the notebook: New California state government hires data

From the notebook posts give State Worker blog users insights, notes and quotes that went into news stories that we write.

Our report in today's Bee notes that the state hired nearly 23,000 new-to-government employees in the 18-month period that ended June 30. The overall size of the work force stayed relatively flat. Interestingly, the number of first-ever permanent full-time workers was just a tad more than half the number of employees who retired, according to the State Controller's Office and CalPERS.

Have furloughs and threat of layoffs or minimum wage pushed some workers to the exits more quickly? Probably. And anecdotally we hear that those same policies have tamped down applications for some high-level jobs, such as investment managers at CalPERS. Then there's the accelerating brain drain brought on by the growing wave of boomer-age employees who are retiring,

Click here to download the new hires data we received last Wednesday from the SCO. We originally planned to reference the information for our Thursday State Worker column, but the granular detail of the database prompted us to write a full news story instead.

August 23, 2010
Schwarzenegger's job chart

100817 Job loss chart.JPG

Capitol Bureau intern Queenie Wong's post, "Schwarzenegger: State employees 'not in touch with reality,' " featured video of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking to the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce in Los Angeles.

During a Q&A with the audience, the governor referenced the job chart pictured above that illustrates how, in his estimation, state workers have been spared the fate that has befallen the private sector during the recession and hence are out of touch with reality.

We asked the administration for a bit more detail about the chart.

July 30, 2010
The budget impasse, converted to furlough dollars

Correction: An earlier version of this post included psychiatric technicians as a group that will work on a self-directed furlough schedule. Psychiatric technicians are exempt from furloughs under the terms of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest furlough order. We regret the error.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100715 Senate Logo.jpgWelcome to Day 30 without a 2010-11 state budget. Here's one way to think of the delay's cost to state workers:

The Schwarzenegger administration figures that each day that the state goes without a budget costs the state another $50 million. That means as of today, the state has burned through $1.5 billion due to legislative inertia.

The Legislature has been on paid vacation this month.

assembly seal.gifCoincidently, the furlough program ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lops off just about $50 million in state payroll costs for every day that the 156,000 workers impacted by it take an unpaid day off. (Many employees such as correctional officers will work full schedules, take the pay hit but may have to defer the time off, depending on departmental needs.)

In other words, it would take 10 months of furloughs just to make up for cash burned through by lawmakers' budgetary procrastination.

June 20, 2010
From the notebook: State leave categories and cash values

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgFrom the notebook items give State Worker blog users some of the notes, quotes, numbers and other background material that inform the news stories we write.

Our story in today's Bee references employee leave data provided to us by the State Controller's Office.

As the piece points out, the state over the years has used leave to pay lawsuit settlements and, in 2003, gave workers leave time instead of a scheduled raise.

Click here to see the accrued leave benefits by category data. You'll also need to open this link to find the controller's definitions of each leave category. The definitions include all types of leave, both those with cash value and those without cash value.

Parting thought: If the courts find that Schwarzenegger illegally furloughed state workers, history suggests settlement could be in leave time, not cash, for employees still on the state payroll.


June 16, 2010
The state budget's history

The Assembly has an online chart that details the dates of when lawmakers passed state budgets and governors signed them going all the way back to 1968.

Click here to view the table.

Thanks to blog user L for shooting this interesting link our way.

May 14, 2010
Study: State workers earn less than private-sector counterparts

The Center for Economic Policy and Research has a new report that looks at government pay, "The Wage Penalty for State and Local Government Employees."

From the introduction:

When state and local government employees are compared to private-sector workers with similar characteristics -- particularly when workers are matched by age and education -- state and local workers actually earn 4 percent less, on average, than their private-sector counterparts. For women workers, the public-sector penalty is about 2 percent of earnings; for men, it is about 6 percent of earnings.

Here's a chart from the 20-page report that illustrates the education disparity between state and local government employees and the general population:

100514 Education chart.JPG

Click here to download the report. Thanks to blog user A for making us aware of the study.

May 13, 2010
Column Extra: Read the CalPERS proposal to boost employer pension contributions

Today's State Worker column in The Bee notes that CalPERS actuaries are recommending the fund's board boost the state's pension contribution by $600 million for the next fiscal year. Click here to read the actuaries' report, which lays out the rationale for the increase.

The board will take up the matter next week.

April 29, 2010
More about state and local government pay

On Wednesday, we told you about a new state and local government pay study released by The Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Sharp-eyed blog user J flagged an online PowerPoint presentation of the material. It was part of a Wedneday webinar about the report. We looked it over and thought it worth posting for everyone, since it quickly distills the findings. Click here to view it.

April 28, 2010
Study: State and local government compensation lags private sector

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the National Institute on Retirement Security jointly released a study this morning comparing what state and local government employees earn compared with private sector workers. Among the findings researchers noted:

Jobs in the public sector typically require more education than private sector positions. State and local employees are twice as likely to hold a college degree or higher as compared to private sector employees. Only 23 percent of private sector employees have completed college, as compared to about 48 percent in the public sector.

Wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants, such as education and work experience. State workers typically earn 11 percent less and local workers 12 percent less.

During the last 15 years, the pay gap has grown: Earnings for state and local workers have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees.

The pattern of declining relative earnings remains true in most of the large states examined in the study, although there does exist some state level variation.

Benefits make up a slightly larger share of compensation for the state and local sector. But even after accounting for the value of retirement, healthcare, and other benefits, state and local employees earn less than private sector counterparts. On average, total compensation is 6.8 percent lower for state employees and 7.4 percent lower for local employees than for comparable private sector employees.

Click here to download the report. This link opens the "About the Center" page on the Center for State and Local Government Excellence website. You'll notice is has ties to retirement funds. Clicking here opens the National Institute for Retirement Security's site.

April 20, 2010
Mortgage workshop this week; CalPERS modifying some loans

Hope|Against|HOPE, the Roseville-based not-for-profit organization that offers home mortgage counseling, is conducting a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento .

This session will include discussions about loan modification, short sales, and the federal "Making Home Affordable" plan.

This link opens Hope|Against|HOPE's website. Click the "Workshops" button at the top for meeting dates, times and locations. Registration is required so that organizers can plan materials appropriately. There's no cost to register or to attend the workshop.

Click here for our April 8 State Worker column about Hope|Against|HOPE and its services.

On a related note, CalPERS has said it's going to modify mortgages for some members. Click here to read a report by The Bee's Jim Wasserman.

March 11, 2010
From the notebook: Cash out law; state worker vacation stats

Thumbnail image for notebook.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

One of the stories we have in today's Bee looks at the impact of state worker furloughs on banked vacation time. As part of our reporting, we asked the Department of Finance for help on compensation rules concerning cash-outs. Department spokesman H.D. Palmer sent us the code, which you can read by clicking this link.

And click here to download the data we used for the story. Hat tip to Bee colleague Phillip Reese for quickly building the spreadsheet from stats provided by the State Controller's Office.


February 25, 2010
Column Extra: Union membership stats

With just 400 to 450 words for our Thursday State Worker column, much of what we learn in the ramp up to writing it never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes, the documents and the observations that don't make the cut.

This week's column looks at private sector and public sector union membership trends and notes how the falling numbers in the former are affecting political fortunes of the latter.

Our numbers come from federal statistics sliced and diced by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson at

The data they compile includes union statistics by metro area and state. In the Sacramento region the union membership numbers looked like this:

Public: 138,339
Private: 68,175

Public: 119,700
Private: 70,488

California's numbers:

Public: 1,405,524
Private: 1,334,376

Public: 1,320,024
Private: 1,133,354

Click here to open

February 18, 2010
Study says California's pension system needs improvement

You're going to hear a lot about a study released this morning by the Pew Center on the States that says state retirement systems have promised current and retired workers $3.35 trillion in pension, health care and other post-employment benefits as of fiscal 2008, but have $2.35 trillion on hand to pay for them. The study shows the impact to public pension funds of the epic meltdown in the financial markets, but it doesn't include much of the subsequent Wall Street rebound that occurred after mid-2009.

Of the $454 billion in retiree pensions and benefits on California's fiscal 2008 books, $59 billion was unfunded liability, according to Pew. That means the fund had assets to cover 87 percent of its obligations.

In conjunction with the national trend report, the center published fact sheets about each state's long-term pension, retiree health and other obligations and graded each on its fund management. Pew gave California a "needs to improve" grade. Click here for the Golden State's profile. This link opens the menu fact sheets for all 50 states.

Here's the broader picture, according to Pew:

In aggregate, states' systems were 84 percent funded--a relatively positive outcome, because most experts advise at least an 80 percent funding level. Still, the unfunded portion--almost $452 billion--is substantial, and states' overall performance was down slightly from an 85 percent combined funding level, against a $2.3 trillion total liability, in fiscal year 2006. These pension bills come due over time, with the current liability representing benefits that will be paid out to both current and future retirees. Liabilities will continue to grow and, as more workers approach retirement, the consequences of delayed funding will become more pronounced.

The conclusion: Some states may have to cut benefits, raise taxes or whack services to keep their pension promises if action isn't taken.

Click here to download "The trillion dollar gap:Underfunded state retirement systems and the road to reform."

January 25, 2010
Report: California union membership down in 2009

California saw a drop in the percentage of wage and salary workers who belonged to a union in 2009, according to figures released on Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The union membership rate nationally fell just one-tenth of a percentage point, from 12.4 in 2008 to 12.3 percent last year. California's union membership dropped from 18.4 percent two years ago to 17.2 percent in 2009.

Click the following link for highlights from the bureau's report and links to the data.

November 23, 2009
See the latest list of furlough states

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a recently-updated list of states that are furloughing their employees or are considering it. You can view the list by clicking here. The numbers are a bit squishy, but the chart illustrates the trend, nonetheless.

Worth noting: Alabama may soon join a growing list of states that furlough their civil servants, according to this story by Birmingham News reporter David White. It's worth noting because the proposal differs from California's furlough policy by giving state agency heads the power to assign unpaid days off to their employees.

The Alabama State Employees Association thinks the furlough talk is premature.

November 17, 2009
New Bee state employment interactive goes live

It's been 10 months since Gov. Arnold started furloughing workers. Meanwhile, the number of full-time state employees has continued to increase, mitigating some of the savings from the furloughs. Use this interactive site, built by Bee colleague Phillip Reese to track state wages and payroll, hiring and the number of part-timers.

November 2, 2009
DMV service slowed by furloughs, report says

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 091102 Senate Oversight logo.jpg The Governor's furlough program has caused longer wait times and eroded service overall at the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a report published today by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes.

"The average time a walk-in customer waits for service has gone from 27 minutes to 45 minutes since implementation of furloughs at the DMV. Those furloughs do not save the state General Fund money, because fees on motorists and the federal government fund the department," according to this press release from Sen. Darrell Steinberg's office.

Click here to read, "DMV Shifts into Reverse: Furlough Fridays Eliminate Gains in Service at Department of Motor Vehicles without Saving General Fund Money."

Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat and Senate President Pro Tem, has been working to rollback state worker furloughs. This latest report by the SOOO follows another about how furloughs impact the state's 24/7 facilities such as prisons. You can click here for our post on "Furloughs in Round-the-Clock Operations: Savings are Illusory."

Schwarzenegger administration spokesman Aaron McLear responded to the Steinberg report: "We understand that the Legislature and Sen. Steinberg don't share the governor's committment to reducing spending, but just as every family and business in California is doing, we must cut back."

October 28, 2009
The scoop on the new state tax 'increase'

Several state workers -- often in a panic -- have e-mailed and called looking for information about the change to the state income tax rate that starts in November.

Now, we don't want to downplay concerns. Nobody enjoys giving the government more money. But as this report by Dale Kasler points out, what's happening next month is a "tax acceleration," a gimmick lawmakers dreamed up for the last budget fix. And it affects everyone, not just state workers.

Some of the worry we're hearing from State Worker blog users has been stoked by this letter from the State Controller's Office.

The bottom line: Your overall tax bill isn't going to rise because the amount owed the following April will be adjusted accordingly. And, according to a CPA cited in Dale's story, "a typical married taxpayer making $75,000 a year and filing jointly, the amount withheld will rise about $16 a month." (We've already endured the real income tax increase when rates went up 0.25 percent earlier this year.)

October 27, 2009
Government fraud has cost Californians $600 million this year

A report released this morning says waste, fraud and mismanagement by state and local governments cost California taxpayers more than $600 million so far this year.

The California Taxpayers' Association used media reports to compile its figures, but only 49 of the 117 examples were quantifiable, so the actual amount is likely much higher.

The association has a collection of reports on waste going back to 1999. Click here to see it. This link will open the Cal-Tax press release about the 2009 report, and clicking here will download the executive summary.

October 19, 2009
Furlough findings are suspect, says U-T blogger

San Diego Union-Tribune blogger Chris Reed on Friday blasted the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education's just-released study, "The High Cost of Furloughs," as "... a pronouncement from an interest group, not an academic work."

See why he says so by clicking here.

October 15, 2009
One 'Furlough Friday' saves almost as much as three; governor pushes back

The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education today released, "The High Cost of Furloughs," a study that concludes that one furlough day per month would yield almost as much savings to the state as the current three "Furlough Fridays."

Here's a chart that lays out the argument:

091015 furloughs.JPG

Click the link below to get the entire report and the response from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office.

October 14, 2009
Senate report says furlough savings 'illusory' at 24/7 facilities

Senate office of oversight and outcomes logo.JPGThe Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes has released a report today that concludes furloughs are carrying a deferred cost for hospitals, prisons and other 24/7 state operations.

From a press release about the report:

In round-the-clock institutions, employees in positions that must be filled day and night are generally not taking off three days per month. Instead, while absorbing the 14% reduction in income, they are working furlough days and banking time to be taken off in the future.

In the prison system, where 70 percent of all state workers paid by the general fund are employed, officials say the long-term cost of furloughs is greater than the savings. But corrections officials say they were told by the administration that short-term payroll savings are more important than future liabilities.

Remarkably, correctional workers banked 1.5 million furlough hours between February and August 2009. Most are correctional officers. At a pay rate of $34.91 an hour, those hours create a future liability of at least $52 million.

When correctional officers do take time off, they generally use furlough days, not vacation days. As a result, from February through August of 2009, the number of unused vacation days accrued by correctional officers jumped 500 percent. This massive buildup of vacation time will complicate prison staffing in the future. The accrued vacation will increase costs, because many workers will be at a higher pay rate when they finally do use their vacation hours.

Furloughs fail to save the $108 million projected by the administration in the prison healthcare system, according to the court-appointed agency operating inmate medical care. Instead, officials say, paying overtime and hiring private workers to fill in for furloughed employees will more than offset any savings.

Furloughs are projected to increase costs within the prison health care system by $37 million to $47 million this year, according to the court-appointed receiver. They say furloughs also create a "management nightmare" and interfere with the court-mandated effort to improve inmate medical care.

Employees in California's dozen mental hospitals and developmental centers are also being forced to work furlough days. They are racking up large balances of furlough and vacation time.

An excerpt from the report:

Asked to justify the imposition of furloughs on these full-time operations, the governor's office responded in writing, without elaboration: "For the most part, 24-hour facilities are on self-directed furlough, and this results in savings."

Click here to download the 15-page report.


September 30, 2009
State payroll, demographics now available in easy-to-manage form

Last week we posted payroll and employee demographic data received from the State Controller's Office, and compared February and July numbers this year with the same months in 2008.

The figures gave some indication of the impact of furloughs on both the state's payroll costs and, by extension, the income tax collected from its employees.

But the information was spread across several tables and not easily manipulated, so we asked State Worker blog users to help us out by taking the data and putting it into a single table.

Thanks to J, a regular to this blog, for lending a hand and sending along this spreadsheet.


September 24, 2009
See pre- and post-furlough state payroll figures

So how much have furloughs boomeranged to hit the state with lost employee payroll taxes?

We've collected data from the controller's office about state income tax withheld from state workers' pay from January 2006 through August of this year. The figures give an indication of how furloughs have affected state tax receipts from workforce payroll.

The state's cut of employee payroll took a $6 million hit in last February, the first month of furloughs, compared with the same month in 2008. Gross payroll for the month also shrank by $62 million, despite nearly 6,000 more full-time employees. (Departments lost about 500 more part-time and intermittent workers, so the overall state worker count for February of this year was down compared to February 2008.)

Click here for the February 2008-09 comparison. You can also check out a July 2008-09 table here. We picked that month for a snapshot, since it was the first with three "Furlough Fridays."

Access the controller's month-by-month data by clicking here.

(The data isn't in a form that can be immediately manipulated. We invite enterprising State Worker blog users to take up the cause and share tables, graphs and observations they cull from the information.)

September 16, 2009
See which state departments hired newcomers this year

State government added about 6,800 new employees in the first half of this year, according to data from the State Controller's Office. We've got the details in spreadsheet form that you can download by clicking here.

Some of the departments that added the most workers:

CHP: 501
Corrections: 940
DMV: 246
Developmental Services: 280
EDD: 1,054
Forestry and Fire Protection: 341
FTB: 388
Mental Health: 466
Parks and Rec: 544

Those numbers reflect appointments where the employee is new to state service, and the spreadsheet has more details about each position. Many are part time or seasonal.

Some hiring may be the result of the quickening retirement rate among state workers, a trend that we reported in this story. Other additions, such as EDD, were driven by higher caseloads.
We're interested in your observations.

California Association of Professional Scientists, which obtained it with a Public Records Acts request from the State Controller's Office, shared the data with The State Worker.

September 2, 2009
Community college enrollment up nearly 5 percent

090902 cccco_logo_gray.jpgThis in from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office:

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott today announced that enrollment for the 2008/09 academic year increased by more than 135,000 students at the system's 110 colleges, based on newly collected data.

The final 2008/09 headcount reflects a 4.9 percent increase in students in relation to the 2007/08 academic years. The total number of students enrolled in California's community colleges was 2,913,735, the highest enrollment figure in the history of the system. The 2008/09 enrollment increase follows three consecutive years of growth for the system. California Community Colleges have seen a 15.9 percent increase in headcount in the last four years. This translates to nearly 400,000 additional students on our college campuses since the 2004/05 academic year.

Click here to read the entire press release.


August 26, 2009
Amador and San Joaquin hit hard in Corrections' new layoff plans

The State Worker reported Monday that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had issued 1,300 new layoff notices to staff statewide following recent budget cuts. That was in addition to the 3,665 it handed out in May.

Department of Corrections press secretary Seth Unger has given us an update on the county-by-county breakdown of the new layoff notices issued, and corrections offices in Amador and San Joaquin were hit hard. Find the breakdown, by county and number of notices issued, after the jump:

August 20, 2009
Column extra: The state layoff spreadsheet

Editor's Note: At the request of the governor's office, The State Worker has substituted a different version of the spreadsheet available via the link in this post. Modified Aug. 21, 2009.

Our Thursday State Worker column is limited by space, but visitors to this blog get extra info, Web links, notes and quotes that don't see print but still inform what we write.

Click here to download the Excel spreadshieet we reference in today's TSW fiber and cyber column.

The numbers, administration spokesman Aaron McLear told us, are "fluid" (the update is from July 7). Still, we think they give a sense of what the administration is thinking about present and future position cuts.

August 18, 2009
Transparency in government bill moves ahead

A bill aimed at increasing state government contract transparency, AB 756, is moving to the Senate floor after the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the measure on Monday. The measure, according to this Senate analysis, "would require a state agency to provide a link to a centrally located and accessible state Internet Web site that includes a list of the personal services and consulting services entered into by the agency." Click here to read more of the analysis.

August 11, 2009
CNN picks up on Sunday state hiring story

CNN took a run at California's government growth on "The Situation Room" today in a commentary segment by an outraged Jack Cafferty. Click this link to see the video clip and read the transcript. It sounded to us like Cafferty heard about our Sunday story in The Bee. If you missed it, click here.

August 7, 2009
Study that says defined pension benefits crucial to reducing elder poverty

The National Institute on Retirement Security has a new study that says,

Defined benefit pension income plays a critical role in reducing the risk of poverty and hardship for older Americans. Poverty rates among older households lacking pension income are about six times greater than those with such income.

The study finds that pensions reduce - and in some cases eliminate - the greater risk of poverty and public assistance dependence that women and minority populations otherwise would face, The Pension Factor reveals ...

Key findings indicate that pension receipt among older American households in 2006 was associated with:

  • 1.72 million fewer poor households and 2.97 million fewer near-poor households
  • 560,000 fewer households experiencing a food hardship
  • 380,000 fewer households experiencing a shelter hardship
  • 320,000 fewer households experiencing a health care hardship
  • 1.35 million fewer households receiving means-tested public assistance
  • $7.3 billion in public assistance expenditures savings, representing about 8.5 percent of aggregate public assistance dollars received by all American households for the same benefit programs

If you click here, you'll see a summary of the report with links to the full study, a press release, a fact sheet and an FAQ.

August 6, 2009
Column extra: The Local 1000 master contract and CPI numbers

Column extras give State Worker blog users notes, data and insights that inform our weekly companion columns.

We thought you might like to see the data behind today's State Worker column, which you can read by clicking here. Click here to see the raw numbers from the Local 1000 master contract and the Consumer Price Index that fed the chart. Tap this link to download a chart that represents the numbers.

July 22, 2009
State Fund attorneys get back pay

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SCIF logo blk.JPG
The money is on the way to State Compensation Insurance Fund legal staff.

As you'll recall (and if you don't, click here), California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment won a lawsuit against State Fund and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that claimed furloughing the roughly 500 fund employees covered by the union broke the law.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge ordered that the fund pay back the money lost to furloughs. That's now happening we're told by Controller's Office spokeswoman Hallye Jordan, who sent this e-mail after we called her Tuesday afternoon:

Looks like all of the retro payments have been "keyed," except 30, which are being "keyed" this week. Most of them are on Direct Deposit, which gets the retro payment into their bank two days after the payment is issued. If they are on paper, we send it to SCIF, which gets it to the employee. The SCIF attorneys will receive their full pay for July.

We followed up with questions about how much money is being paid back in sum and whether the payments include penalties or interest. Jordan passed our questions on to SCO payroll division staff and then forwarded the answers she received:

There was no interest or penalty associated with the back pay. We have not attempted to calculate the cost of this retroactive adjustment, and would have to write a program to extract that information. The transactions were key entered over a period of time, so the adjustments were issued over a period of about a week, not all in one payroll cycle.

I can come up with a rough estimate without writing a report to extract the information. With retirement and Social Security State contributions, it should total about $2.16 million. I arrive at this by summing the monthly salary of 465 attorneys currently working for SCIF ($3.6 million), multiplying this salary by the amount of the furlough reduction of 9.23%, then multiplying the total by 30% to add the State cost of Social Security and Retirement, and multiplying the total by 5 months. That would be pretty close to the full cost of the retroactive adjustments due to restoring the salary for the SCIF rank and file attorneys.

The next question: How is the fund addressing the disparities between employees who took furlough time off and those who deferred the time off?

We'll talk to State Fund and let you know how it resolves this precedent-setting issue, since it's possible another 5,000 SEIU Local 1000-covered employees may soon have the same question.

Thanks to blog user H for poking us about State Fund.

June 28, 2009
From the notebook: More about the administration and CCPOA

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Gavel.jpgBlog posts from the notebook give you insights, notes and quotes that inform news stories that we write.

Our story in today's fiber and cyber Bee looks at the history of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and whether its influence is a casualty of the state's threadbare economy.

Here are some of the documents and research that informed our writing:

The Mediation Impasse Request
The state's account of events leading up to the imposition of the last, best and final offer. Includes transcripts from bargaining, correspondence and more. 77 pages.

CCPOA v. State of California
The 2007 court ruling that the state didn't breach an oral contract with the union. 12 pages.

CCPOA / DPA letters
Correspondence between the union and the Department of Personnel Administration about furloughs. 11 pages.

Kurt Stoezl, Elvira Harris, Bruce Cook and Randy Stroud v. CDCR, etc.
The union's "donning and doffing" lawsuit.17 pages.

CCPOA v. State of California
The opening brief of CCPOA's "donning and doffing" appeal. 42 pages.

"The Status of Donning & Doffing Cases For California Peace Officers"
A summary of donning and doffing cases written by attorney Gary G. Goyette. Four pages.

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2008 / 33-3012 Correctional Officers and Jailers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual survey, which was updated last month.

Inmate Incidents in Institutions
Corrections and Rehabilitation's 2006 report on inmate crimes. PDF pages 6 and 7 have the assault and battery figures. 20 pages.

Employees Killed by Inmates
A list of CDCR staff murdered by inmates from 1952 through 2008. Three pages.


June 26, 2009
State properties for sale (some day)

Note: We started our vacation today, although through the miracle of technology we have a couple of posts scheduled for Sunday and Monday. We'll be back July 6. While we're gone, Cap Bureau colleague Andrew McIntosh will keep the TSW blog fed. (He already has a post up today.)

See you next month!

The Los Angeles Daily News has a list of state properties that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to sell. The data table includes the price and timeframe to sell. Is your building is on the list? Click here to see.

Of course, the "For Sale" signs aren't out yet, and as the table notes, getting deals done would take many months, even years. And those guesstimates are probably optimistic, given the condition of the commercial real estate market and the financial system.

Thanks to TSW blog user DT for hooking us up with this link.

June 17, 2009
Union: Study shows tax hike won't push out businesses

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is touting the findings of a new study as proof that California can raise taxes to balance its budget.

AFSCME notes that the study by Public Policy Institute of California indicates that the state's enterprise zone program, which gives tax incentives to businesses to spur job creation in certain economically distressed areas, "has no effect on job or business creation."

An AFSCME e-mail with a link to the study makes this connection:

These findings effectively repudiate the arguments of those who say that California cannot raise taxes to balance its budget, because doing so will cause valuable businesses and jobs to flee the Golden State.

Is this a reasonable conclusion or a politically motivated intellectual leap? You decide. Click here to read the 32-page PPIC report. If that's too time-consuming, click this link for a two-page summary.

AFSCME is hoping to get media outlets to publish an opinion piece about the study, which you can read by clicking here. And this link will take you to the AFSCME e-mail sent to media that introduces the opinion article.

June 12, 2009
Column extra: Links for info on wages, union trends and more

Thumbnail image for computer_desk.gifOur column in Thursday's Bee was the third of a three-part series on state worker pay and benefits, but there's a wealth of information on the Web for folks who want to do their own research.

Here are a few sites to get you started:

The California Department of Finance Reports and Periodicals page


The U.S. Census Bureau's State & Local Governments page

Economic Indicators

The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sidenote: The BLS on Wednesday released its "Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Summary" for March 2009. Click here and then scroll down for a list of data available, including stuff on state and local government employees.

We'll tap The Bee's research guru and I-Tools Tips blogger Pete Basofin for others and we'll share what he finds here or over on his Web site. And if blog users have any good links for similar data, send 'em our way.

Thanks to TSW blog user CS for suggesting this post.


June 7, 2009
More about the union census numbers in today's Bee story

Our story about public employee unions in today's fiber and cyber Bee notes that private sector union coverage of workers has been in decline for many years, while government union coverage hasn't. As we were researching for the story, UCLA sociologist Ruth Milkman put us on to a Web site for union census data, sliced in a variety of ways.  

Various sections look at union membership and coverage nationally and by metro area, industry and occupation. You can see the numbers for total employment, the number of union members and the number of workers covered by a union contract. There's stuff on there about union coverage by industry and occupation, too.

You can view the site,, by clicking here. It's maintained by Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University and David Macpherson of Florida State University.

It wouldn't surprise us if many users of this blog already know about this resource, but it was new to us, so we wanted to share it.

May 4, 2009
ABC staff take aim teen drinking in May, hope to cut killer crashes
Staff at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control have joined a national effort  this month that aims to cut underage drinking and reduce deadly car and truck crashes.

ABC investigators and enforcement staff statewide have joined the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association's "Operation Save a Teen."

ABC investigators will work across California all this month to thwart the sale of alcohol to teens and underage drinking, hopefully preventing dozens of alcohol-related tragedies.

During 2007, 188 people under age 21 were killed in alcohol-related crashes statewide, according to ABC Director Steve Hardy.

Hardy said families should be celebrating landmark life events like high school and college graduations and other spring community events, not mourning their dead teens.

For details about either Operation Save a Teen and the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, click here. 
April 16, 2009
DPA error in SEIU contract summary

The Department of Personnel Administration made a boo-boo on the Web page we referenced Wednesday in this blog post.

The DPA site says that, "Related excluded classes employed at the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Bureau of State Audits will not be included in the related excluded classes impacted by this agreement."

The LAO's Jason Dickerson flagged us about the post. Turns out that the DPA summary should have said that Legislative Counsel Bureau's excluded employees aren't part of the group impacted by the tentative SEIU deal. The LAO shouldn't have been mentioned.

We contacted DPA. The summary page will be corrected today, spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said.

April 10, 2009
Subscribe to the new California stimulus Web site


The Schwarzenegger administration has rolled out an RSS feed for its Recovery Act Task Force Web site. Find the feeder by clicking here.

Why should state workers care? Well, the Web site will track federal money flowing into California government programs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. State officials expect California will get $50 billion of the $787 billion ARRA will dole out in the next 18 months.

The governor on Thursday applied for about $5 billion of that moolah for state education programs. (The photo at left was taken during the press event marking the signing of the application).

IMAGE: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger takes a question during the ARRA application signing in his office on Thursday. CREDIT: Sacramento Bee, Hector Amezcua

March 30, 2009
CHP plans focus on passenger safety


The Highway Patrol literally will be doing overtime on Tuesday to focus on passenger seat belt and child restraint violations, according to this CHP alert. The officers' overtime is funded by a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety.

Interesting fact from the press release:

In 2008, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issued 204,187 citations to drivers and passengers who failed to buckle up. That figure does not include the 17,076 tickets issued for child safety seat violations.


March 18, 2009
California ranks last with CEOs

California is the worst state in which to do business, according to 543 CEOs surveyed by Chief Executive magazine.

What does this have to do with state workers? Well, the executives were asked to evaluate their states in areas such as resources, regulation and taxes, among other things. The survey is in its fifth year.

This press release includes some historical rankings.

You can click here for the entire list. Each state entry has a little more detail about rankings in specific categories. California, for example, ranked 48 in both the "business friendliness" and "cost of business categories."

We read this and wondered how the survey would have looked if state workers had been surveyed. So what do you think? Does California deserve this bad rap?

January 28, 2009
Union membership grew in 2008

The Bureau of Labor statistics reports today that union membership grew last year to 12.4 percent, up from 12.1 percent in 2007. It was the second year in a row of union growth.

The union membership nationwide increased by 428,000 to 16.1 million. That's still well below the level of union membership the government reported in 1983, the first year for which data is available. That year, 20.1 percent of workers were in a union, about 17.7 million people.

California has 2.74 million union members, about 18.4 percent of the state's employed workers. Another roughly 169,000 employees are covered by union bargaining agreements, bringing total union representation in the state to 19.5 percent.

Other highlights noted by the BLS:

  • Government workers were nearly five times more likely to belong to a union than were private-sector employees.
  • Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.7 percent.
  • Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
  • Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate (24.9 percent) and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.5 percent).

Click here for far more details, tables and charts about union membership.

January 14, 2009
First low blow in state worker furlough battle?
The allegation made by the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, was tantalizing, to say the least, even if it was nowhere in its own court filings.

Had Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger deliberately flouted his own Dec. 19 executive order by hiring expensive private sector lawyers to defend lawsuits that state worker unions launched to kill his administration's furlough and pay cut plan?

An SEIU representative suggested that the hiring of David Tyra and two peers from the pricey Sacramento law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard did exactly that.

The hire, the union alleged, breached this section of the Governator's executive order:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that effective January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010, all State agencies and departments under my direct executive authority, regardless of funding source, are prohibited from entering into any new personal services or consulting contracts to perform work as a result of the furloughs, layoffs or other position reduction measures implemented as a result of this Order. 

The unions filed lawsuits on Dec. 22 and thought they had the administration cold;  who can hire a top gun like Tyra between Christmas and New Year's when the state is closed.

Wrong, totally wrong, says Lynelle Jolley of the Department of Personnel Administration.

The state contract with Kronick, Moskovitz was signed Nov. 1, 2008, she said. 

Because there was much talk during the fall about the bad budget, union contracts and compensation issues, the department's legal unit anticipated some legal nastiness.

The unit put the contract in place in advance in case it needed extra firepower, Jolley said.
January 14, 2009
State still hiring despite deficit and furloughs

The State Personnel Board has a handy-dandy Web tool for anyone looking for a state job anywhere in California.

It's called Geo Search, and you can see it right here.

The site displays open jobs by county statewide. I was curious: is the state hiring in these tough times?

I thought there would be no vacancies and no hiring, given that the state is running out of cash and eyeballing a stinker of a $45 billion budget deficit.

 So wrong.

In Sacramento County, there are 1,600 state jobs open, many of the advertisements for them including a declaration that the position is exempt from the state hiring freeze. 

Yes, that was 1-6-0-0.

Ditto for Los Angeles (181 open jobs), Fresno (83 open jobs), Napa (78 open jobs) Solano (62 open jobs), Yolo (49 open jobs) and San Francisco ( 44 open jobs).

Sutter, Yuba, Placer and Eldorado counties show postings for another 22 vacant jobs.

How can this be?.

Lynelle Jolley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Personnel Administration, thinks that some of those jobs probably won't be filled.

Some agencies are loathe to take down their job advertisements because they want to build a file of resumes they can tap when the economy and state's finances improve, she said.

Like any other workplace, though, there are defections to other agencies and state worker departures to private sector or other jobs. 

 There are retirements, too, though the 401K declines that some state workers saw in their accounts during 2008 have put a lot of those plans on hold, Jolley added.
"Even during furloughs and layoffs, there are certain jobs that you have to fill," Jolley said. "Consider what you would do if six people in your ten-person shop either leave or retire?"

The Governor and Department of Finance have made it clear in their marching orders that departments and agencies may still hire, Jolley said, but noted there's a big caveat.

The departments and agencies must meet budget reduction targets and promise not to come back later to plead for more money because they've blown the budget. 

If you have a teenager or college-age student, you may know where this is going. . .

January 13, 2009
Department's food drive soars, despite looming furloughs

Sometimes, the efforts of a few stand out as a shining example in hard times.

Workers at the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, a department with about 310 state employees, have collectively answered the call of depleted food banks statewide even as their own pay checks are set to shrink 10 percent next month.

DAPD workers have so far donated more than 8,000 pounds of food and cash to the State Employees Food Drive.

That's more than 25 pounds per employee, compared to last year's statewide average of about 3 pounds per worker, the department's Morgan Staines told The State Worker.

Staines, the department's chief counsel and food drive leader, said many DADP staffers have personally experienced hard times over the years and understand needs are great.

"We're all closer to the edge right now than we would like," Staines said.

The state employee food drive continues through Jan. 16.

The Department of Food and Agriculture, despite its own incredible workload, coordinates the statewide effort in partnership with California Emergency Foodlink.  The Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs leads the state's drug prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. 

January 9, 2009
In the state vs. unions furlough battle, it's 7-1 on the lawyer front
How many lawyers does it take the state and the Schwarzenegger administration to fight a legal challenge by state worker unions opposing the Governor's plan to furlough them for two days a month and cut their pay 10 percent?

Seven, court documents suggest.

A single attorney - Gerald James - is listed as working the case for the combined 16,000 members of the Professional Engineers and Professional Scientists unions.

He's up against a total of seven state and private sector lawyers either working for or hired by and working for the state, court filings show.

The list of James' opponents takes up a half a page of court document real estate alone, including lead lawyer David Tyra and two colleagues with the Sacramento-based Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard law firm.  The other attorneys are Laura Izon Powell and Kristianne T. Seargent           

Tyra's joined by and four state lawyers of record on the case, including chief counsel K. William Curtis, Warren C. Stracener, Linda A. Mayhew and Will M. Yamada, of the Department of personnel Administration.

January 1, 2009
Counting down The State Worker's Greatest Hits (part 2)

090101 Top 10.jpgWe're wrapping up our review of the 10 most-visited posts on The State Worker as reflected by user hits in 2008. If you missed part one, stop now and click here to get Nos. 10 to six in the countdown.

Moving on ...

#5 with 8,185 hits -- Budget in sight, state worker contract talks next (Sept. 15)

In retrospect, a hopelessly naive headline.

#4 with 8,895 hits -- Schwarzenegger: State now 'almost forced' into layoffs (Dec. 2)

The press conference that whipped up a firestorm.

#3 with 9,785 -- More about union leader arrested on child porn (Sept. 10)

SEIU Local 1000 spokesman Jim Zamora earned his pay with a 1 a.m. e-mail responding to our late-night questions about (now former) SEIU Local 1000 District Labor Council 784 President Jaime E. Feliciano.

#2 with 10,842 hits -- Schwarzenegger pens letter to state workers (Nov. 6)

The second of the "Dear Valued State Worker" letters. Schwarzenegger's Dec. 19 furlough notice dropped "valued" from the salutation.

And now ... (click here) ... the moment you've been waiting for ...

#1 with 13,107 hits -- Who's exempt?

Will we be writing that headline in 2009?

December 31, 2008
Counting down The State Worker's Greatest Hits (part 1)


The governor's warning that he'll fire some state workers and whack the pay of the rest if there's no budget by Monday has ticked off California's public employees -- and prompted us to unveil The State Worker a week ahead of schedule.

Since opening shop with that lead paragraph on July 24, The State Worker through Tuesday morning had posted 284 items and tallied 558,525 user hits.

Whew. That's a lot of clicking.

We'd like to thank Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California's elected state workers in the legislature, both past and present, for giving us a wealth of issues to cover. Ditto the unions, the media, local and regional government, CalPERS, the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and private contractors.

And of course, this blog wouldn't exist without California's state workers.

But which entries were most popular with users? We asked Bee tech guy Roger Price to run the numbers so that we could present the The State Worker's 2008 Top Ten:

#10 with 5,085 hits - Budget talk vs. union contract negotiations (Aug. 25)

The only thing that's changed since this post is that the numbers are bigger.

#9 with 5,239 hits - UPDATE -- The latest on Schwarzenegger's pay reduction order (Sept. 4)

Legal question still in the courts: Must the SCO reduce state worker pay to fed minimum when there's no budget? Answer: Who cares when you may get laid off?

#8 with 5,519 hits - Column extra: Some background on pay cuts, time off and holidays (Nov. 13)

Post provided history on state wage cuts, time off programs. Will we add another chapter in 2009?

#7 with 5,995 hits - IRS rule could impact early retirement for government workers (Sept. 22)

We piggybacked on a Las Vegas newspaper report that an obscure IRS rule change could have upended public employee retirement. The feds eventually backed off, but the notion sure scared the heck out of public employees for a while.

#6 with 6,580 hits - Departments making furlough plans (Dec. 29)

Here's how you know D-Day looms: Generals start planning the details.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of The State Worker's Greatest Hits.

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2008
California public retirement payouts near $30 billion

Census_Bureau_seal.svg.pngThe U.S. Census Bureau reports that California's state and local government retirement system's paid $28.95 billion to retirees and their survivors in fiscal 2007 in defined benefits.

About $19.33 billion of that went to state retirees and their survivors. The rest, roughly $9.62 billion, went to local government retirees and their survivors. The totals include benefits, withdrawals and other payments.

The nation's state and local government retirement systems paid $168 billion in fiscal 2007 to 7.5 million retirees and their survivors. That represented