Senate Approves Contracts With Six Unions for State Employees
On Monday, the state Senate approved a bill (SB 151), by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), that would ratify contract deals with six public employee unions that represent more than 50,000 workers, the Contra Costa Times reports.
According to Correa, the agreements would reduce state spending by about $350 million by increasing state workers' pension contributions (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 5/2).
The savings are lower than previous projections by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who initially said the contract deals would reduce state spending by more than $500 million to help alleviate California's $15.4 billion budget deficit (McGreevy/Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 5/2).
In March, Brown signed legislation to reduce state spending by $11.2 billion. The measures included deep cuts to several health programs.
Brown initially planned to close the remaining $15.4 billion deficit by putting a tax extension measure before voters in a June special election, but GOP lawmakers have refused to support the proposal. If his tax proposal fails, Brown has threatened to release an all-cuts budget plan (California Healthline, 4/28).
Contract Bill Details
Correa said the agreements with the unions would permanently increase workers' pension contributions by between 2% and 5% (Contra Costa Times, 5/2).
The deals also would require public employees to take 12 furlough days over the next 12 months (Los Angeles Times, 5/2).
SB 151 now moves to the Assembly.
Many Republican lawmakers criticized the contract deals for not going far enough to reduce state spending.
Senate GOP Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) said none of the pension demands he made a month ago are in the new contracts. He added that a $16 billion unfunded liability for retiree health care still needs to be addressed (Contra Costa Times, 5/2).
Sen. Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar) said he expects more budget cuts to be necessary because the contracts do not reduce state spending as much as Brown had anticipated (Weintraub, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/2).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.