High court rejects Schwarzenegger’s petition to consolidate furloughed workers' cases

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A California Department of Motor Vehicles customer peers into the door of a closed DMV branch July 10, 2009 in Corte Madera, California. File photo.

California’s Supreme Court today rejected Governor Schwarzenegger’s request to consolidate lawsuits that challenge his furloughs of state workers.

Last year, to offset a budget gap, the governor ordered state workers to stay home three Fridays a month without pay.

In dozens of cases, public employees have challenged his authority to make that call.
Lower courts have issued conflicting rulings. That’s one reason the Schwarzenegger administration petitioned California’s highest court to consolidate seven main cases and freeze dozens of others.

In response, the state Supreme Court justices didn’t offer an explanation — just a big, fat “no.”
Justice Joyce Kennard wrote, "The application to transfer and consolidate appeals now pending in the Court of Appeal to this court is denied."

The governor's deputy press secretary, Rachel Arrezola responded to the decision:

"We’re disappointed that the court will not allow the state to save hundreds of thousands of dollars by consolidating these lawsuits and expediting the appeal process to promptly resolve this important issue. We remain confident the courts will ultimately uphold the Governor’s furlough authority."

The governor’s office estimates that the furloughs saved $2.2 billion so far. If the workers prevail, Schwarzenegger may have to reinstate workers and pay them back wages. That could increase California’s multi-billion dollar deficit.

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