The state Board of Equalization is laying the groundwork to terminate more than a quarter of its employees with the line drawn at those with 42 months of service or less.
The board is sending out letters to about 1,100 employees asking them to confirm their service time. Meanwhile, it has sent a layoff plan to the Department of Personnel Administration. Once that's approved, State Restriction of Appointments letters will go out and the 120-day clock toward termination starts ticking. That means layoffs some time in February, assuming nothing changes between now and then.
Faced with approximately $55 million in budget cuts, the board last month asked its 4,000-plus employees to volunteer for furloughs. So far, BOE spokeswoman Anita Gore tells The State Worker, more than 1,200 people have offered to take unpaid days off.
But that will only save between $3 million and $3.5 million. Even with other cost cuts, the board is still a long way from hitting its budget target. And more cuts may be coming if state revenues don't pick up. BOE let go all of its students and retired annuitants last month. It has also frozen hiring; reduced overtime; cut travel, operating and supply expenses; reduced training expenses and cancelled or suspended non-essential contracts.
There's some uncertainty to all of this, as is usually the case when the state starts talking about whacking jobs. More people could volunteer for furloughs, which would reduce the number of terminations. The state's revenues could pick up significantly. And BOE istill doesn't know the exact size of its budget hole, since the Department of Finance hasn't given the board specific savings targets to hit.
"We're working from estimates," Gore said."But the more good news we get, the fewer the number of people we'll have to lay off."
The the political winds could change direction, too, as evidenced by today's announcement by Senate President Darrell Steinberg that he wants to reduce state worker furloughs and enact SEIU Local 1000's stalled labor contract. If that happened, thousands of SEIU-covered employees at BOE and other constitutional offices that haven't been furloughing emloyees would start taking one unpaid day off each month.
You can read more about Steinberg's plan by clicking here.
Photo credit: BOE headquarters / Sacramento Bee 2005, Jay Mather