Gov. Declares Financial State of Emergency, Orders Furloughs
On Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) declared a financial state of emergency and ordered a revival of three monthly furlough days that will affect more 150,000 state workers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The furloughs are slated to begin the second Friday in August. According to the governor's order, the furloughs will end either when lawmakers pass a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 or when administration officials decide the state has enough funds to provide full salaries to workers (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 7/29).
The Schwarzenegger administration estimates that the furloughs will reduce state payroll spending by about $147.2 million monthly.
The furlough order will not apply to about 73,000 employees who either work for an exempted agency or belong to a union that made a previous deal with the Schwarzenegger administration (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 7/29). The Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents 1,800 state employees, is one of the labor groups exempt from the order (Los Angeles Times, 7/29).
Some other unions -- including the Service Employees International Union -- have yet to reach a labor contract agreement with the governor (Sacramento Bee, 7/29).
Yvone Walker, President of SEIU Local 1000, said the governor's furlough order is "absolutely a political calculation" designed to pressure lawmakers to agree to his budget terms (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/29).
However, the Schwarzenegger administration said the strategy is necessary to prevent the state from running out of cash.
Controller John Chiang (D) recently said he would begin issuing IOUs in August or September unless lawmakers approve a budget plan (Los Angeles Times, 7/29).
Schwarzenegger's furlough order and minimum wage threats qualify as "bullying tactics" that are "tiresome, mean-spirited and destructive," a Sacramento Bee editorial states. It concludes, "Difficult though it may be, Schwarzenegger needs to knock off the cheap tricks and truly engage in budget negotiations" (Sacramento Bee, 7/29).
Headlines and links for broadcast coverage of the furlough order are provided below.
- "State Worker Furloughs Are Back" (Russ, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 7/28).
- "Schwarzenegger Renews Furloughs of State Workers" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 7/28).