California state employees see 5 percent cut in paychecks

4:29 PM, Aug 1, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The pay cuts were announced with advanced warning. But it was still tough, and even surprising for many state workers who opened their checks Wednesday to see what slashing salaries by nearly 5 percent really means.

"I looked at my check and it was like more than $200 less," state employee Yvette Wilson said. "My plans are to move, get a smaller place and pay less in rent."

The pay cuts affect about 217,000 state workers throughout California; 19 public employee unions agreed to it for one year. In exchange, they get one extra day a month off.

For the 11,000 engineers in two bargaining units that didn't agree, the furloughs and pay cuts were forced on them.

Gov. Brown wants to save $850 million to help close a $16 billion deficit.

"State government workers are not immune to the same types of pressures that the private sector is," California Finance Department spokesperson H.D. Palmer said. "Rather than going through a layoff situation, the agreement was to have individuals agree to or have forced upon them a one-day-a-month paid leave per month."

At a farmer's market near the State Capitol, vendors worry that state workers will buy less from them.

Cheesemaker Tim Pedrozo has seen sales dip 25 percent over the last 18 months. He's bracing for it to get worse as his customers see smaller paychecks.

"It's a struggle. It's a struggle for all these vendors who come. And if we don't make enough money, then we're not going to come back," Pedrozo said.

While many state workers are changing lifestyles to live with the pay cuts, some staffers working for lawmakers got as much as a 5 percent raise over the last several months, even the ones already making six-figure salaries.

By Nannette Miranda


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