Savings from state furloughs difficult to calculate

5:36 PM, Jan 15, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - On Friday's Live_Online at 11 a.m., Sacramento Bee reporter Jon Ortiz, who writes the State Worker Blog, offered another reason why Gov. Schwarzenegger opted for furloughs over layoffs for state employees.

Furloughs can be implemented quickly and reduce payroll immediately, Ortiz told viewers. It can take 120 days or one-third of a year to carry out layoffs for civil servants, and workers can still appeal their termination, Ortiz said.

Schwarzenegger has said repeatedly furloughs are preferable over layoffs because everyone shares the pain and still collects a paycheck.

It's difficult to calculate the savings or costs of the furlough order. Ortiz said the furloughs reduced the payroll by more than $1 billion, but that does not take into account the overtime costs incurred to catch up on missed work or the legal costs to fight the two dozen lawsuits challenging the furloughs.

While most state workers would no longer be required to take three furlough days a month under Schwarzenegger's 2010-2011 California budget plan, his proposal would still reduce workers' salary by 15 percent, roughly the same cut under the furloughs.

Specifically, a state worker's pay would be cut by 5 percent, the employee's contribution to retirement would be increased by 5 percent, and another 5 percent cut in salary would result if federal funding for California falls short. Bottom line: most state employees would work more hours for less money.

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