California Supreme Court Ruling Allows Furloughs To Begin Friday
On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that banned mandatory furlough days for about 150,000 state employees, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The state employees will be forced to take off from work without pay this Friday, as well as Friday of next week.
The Department of Public Health will be closed on the furlough days.
As part of its ruling, the state Supreme Court put all furlough litigation on hold until it determines whether the governor has the authority to mandate unpaid leave, effectively allowing the planned furloughs to proceedÂ (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 8/19).
The court is scheduled to hear arguments on this issue on Sept. 8 (Sacramento Business Journal, 8/18). A ruling is expected within 90 days after the initial hearing (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/19). Â
Background on Furlough Battle
On July 28, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) ordered the unpaid furloughs as a way to reduce state payroll spending by about $137 million per month, which translates to about $76 million for the general fund.
The ruling by the Supreme Court is the latest in a string of rulings and appeals that began after an Aug. 9 ruling by an Alameda County judge temporarily barred Schwarzenegger from imposing the furlough plans.
After the Alameda judge ruling, the governor appealed unsuccessfully to the 1st District Court of Appeal before appealing to the state Supreme Court.
Schwarzenegger's battle for the furlough program involves more than 30 lawsuits with labor unions since 2008.
Each unpaid day taken off is equivalent to about 4.65% of a worker's monthly pay (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 8/19).
Several workers' unions and agencies are exempt from the furloughs in part because they previously reached an agreement with Schwarzenegger that involved pension reductions (Los Angeles Times, 8/19).
Aaron McLear, a spokesperson for the governor, said the furloughs will stop if lawmakers approve a state budget.
If a budget is not approved, the furloughs this week and next week will continue, in addition to one more furlough day determined at the discretion of each affected agency.
California faces a budget deficit of $19 billion (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/19). Â
As of Thursday, the state budget is 50 days overdue.
On Wednesday, state Controller John Chiang (D) said that the state might start issuing IOUs in two to four weeks. Without the IOUs, California could run out of cash in October. Â
The state could issue the IOUs to:
- Counties, for their portion of CalWORKS' welfare-to-work program, and programs for mental health care and substance misuse;
- Vendors who supply goods and services to the state; and
- The federal government, for California's portion of Supplemental Security Income and State Supplementary Payment programs for low-income seniors, the blind and the disabled (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/19).
On Wednesday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the state Supreme Court's ruling in the furlough lawsuit (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.