Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to announce this week that he’ll extend furloughs for state workers for another year. That’s part of his plan to close California’s $20 billion deficit. KPCC's Julie Small reports that the governor’s also threatened layoffs and pay cuts if the courts block his furloughs.
Governor Schwarzenegger enacted three furlough days a month for thousands of state workers last year. That saved the state government more than a billion dollars; it also was — in effect — a 14 percent pay cut for those state workers who had to take the furlough days.
Unions for state workers sued to stop the furloughs — and won a number of cases in lower courts. The state plans to appeal those rulings. The Governor’s press secretary Aaron McLear says if state workers prevail again in court, they’ll lose at the office.
"We have an obligation to meet $1.3 billion for savings for the furlough. That’s in law. That’s in the budget that the legislature passed and we signed. So if unions are successful in blocking those furloughs, they will have been successful in guaranteeing layoffs and pay cuts for their members," McLear said.
Last year, the governor sent layoff notices to tens of thousands of state workers — but never pulled the layoff trigger.