It's Furlough Friday, which means we send a special shout out to our state
employee subscribers who are reading The Roundup in
Normally, we'd tell you to take care of things like visiting the
DMV on your day off, but, that's not really an option . . .
"The [DMV's] 200 offices across California are closed, along with several
other state agencies, as hundreds of thousands of state workers take their first
day of unpaid leave to help the cash-starved government cut expenses," write Wyatt Buchanan and Steve Rubenstein for the
"Twice-monthly furloughs are the latest turn as the state's economic situation spirals out of control. Construction
projects around California stopped last month, the
state controller postponed tax refunds earlier this
week and California will run out of cash in the next
few weeks unless the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
agree on a plan to fix the state's $42 billion deficit.
"DMV closures, along with the shutting of 28 state office buildings around California, are the
most public manifestation yet of the state's financial woes. The furloughs, which affect up to
238,000 employees the first and third Fridays each month until
June 2010, are expected to save the state $1.4 billion."
The AP's Judy Lin writes: "Labor leaders said the furloughs could have been prevented. Jim
Zamora, spokesman for Service Employees International Union,
1000, said the administration did not respond to the union's latest
contract proposal, which he said included alternatives.
than a week ago, Local 1000 presented the governor's negotiators with a
deal that would have prevented the closure of state
offices, created an
orderly, flexible and manageable furlough process,
prevented chaos and
saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars,' Zamora said in a
"Despite Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order for state workers to take today off without
pay, one group will be showing up for work, just like always.
"Their bosses, seven officers elected in statewide elections
and one independent board, say that the governor can't furlough them. Schwarzenegger says he can. A Sacramento
Superior Court judge issued an order Thursday that
amounts to a "no comment" on the matter.
"The furlough fight between the Republican governor
and the mostly Democratic officials raises the stakes
in what has become a constitutional game of chicken
against the backdrop of California's budget crisis. It's probably not going to be resolved without more lawsuits,
said one expert.
"Andrea Hoch, Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, said that if Controller
John Chiang doesn't implement the furlough order for his own employees
and those of other constitutional officers, the administration
will take him to court.
"'The Governor's Office and the Department of Personal Administration
is prepared to file suit against him to compel him
to obey the law and assist the state in averting a
cash crisis that he himself has warned is mere days
away,' Hoch said in a Thursday press statement.
"Chiang spokesman Jacob Roper
said that the controller 'is going to continue to follow the court ruling – which did not apply to the statewide officers.'"
Meanwhile, don't expect a budget vote this weekend, although Shane
Goldmacher reports "Senate President Darrell Steinberg said Thursday that
both houses of
the Legislature are planning a budget vote sometime next week, though
the Democratic leader was careful to say no final agreement
Dan Walters asks whether the plan up for a vote next
week will fix the structural problem identified by the Legislative Analyst.
"The unspoken theme of these reports is that this immense
fiscal crisis is also an opportunity to fix the outmoded,
illogical, unworkable and often contradictory policy
decrees that have contributed mightily to the problem,
in order not only to ease the current deficit's impact but to forestall, or at least mitigate, what
would otherwise be a string of such crises in the future.
"Taylor's telling us that we cannot evade reality, that we
cannot continue to promise more in services than our
revenue system can support, even in non-recessionary periods.
"One of the LAO's sister agencies, the California State Auditor, weighed
in on the state's crisis itself this week, declaring the budget to
be a "high-risk issue" and pointing out that over the past 20 years, 12 state budgets have had deficits, just eight had surpluses
and, startlingly, the cumulative deficits of $146 billion were nearly five times as large as the $30 billion in surpluses.
"That factoid should prove, if there still is a doubt,
that California's budget crisis is long-term and structural, not simply something that resulted
from the current recession, although the downturn has
certainly made it much worse."
"The confirmation hearings for Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, were abruptly halted Thursday, after new revelations about tax liens on her husband's business," reports Capitol Weekly.
"The jockeying to replace Solis, a former member of
the California Assembly and Senate, has already reached
a fever pitch. Among the top candidates in the race
to replace her are Board of Equalization chairwoman
Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, and state Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles.
"The race between Chu and Cedillo has already gotten
heated. Chu has lined up endorsements from the powerful
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and service
employee unions. Cedillo is being backed by former
state Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Gloria Romero, who represents much of Solis's 32nd Assembly District.
"Controversy over the appointment erupted just prior
to a hearing of the Senate's Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, which
had been scheduled to consider her nomination. USA
Today reported that the committee members did not learn
about the tax issue until Thursday. The newspaper said
that her husband yesterday paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business -- including liens that had been outstanding for as long
as 16 years."
The Chron's Nanette Asimov looks at the debate over K-12 categorical flexibility.
"The $14 billion that pays for dozens of cherished programs
is not actually being cut, despite a $42 billion state budget gap that threatens school funding
by about $10 billion.
"What has parents and teachers in such a sweat is that
lawmakers negotiating the state budget are considering
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to free schools - for the first time in decades - from having to spend billions of dollars on specific
state-required programs. There are more than 60 such programs, including art and music, bilingual
teacher training, and vocational training in agriculture.
"Billed as financial flexibility, the governor's proposal would be a boon for school districts that
want greater freedom to spend the earmarked money.
"'One-size-fits-all does not work,' said Brian Lewis, executive director of the California Association
of School Business Officials.
"But to those who depend on such programs, flexibility
is just another word for siphoning the money away."
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named Karen Douglas the new chair of the California
Energy Commission on Thursday," reports Shane Goldmacher on Capitol Alert.
"Douglas, 34, has served on the commission since last year. Before
that, she was the director of the California Climate
Initiative at Environmental Defense. A Democrat, she'll earn $132,179. The position requires Senate confirmation.
"The energy commission, officially known as the State
Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission,
is one of several energy policymaking bodies in the
state. Douglas replaces Jackalyne Pfannenstiel as chair."
Meanwhile, things are looking pretty ugly for the University of California's retirement system.
"UC regents voted yesterday to start regular payments
and, along with UC President Mark Yudof, served notice of a possible reduction in benefits
for thousands of retirees.
"'I see no way around restructuring the benefits,' Yudof said at the end of a frank discussion that appeared
to startle some regents, one of whom expressed concern
about a coming pension 'train wreck.'
"'I don't know what we're legally allowed to do, but we'll find out,' Yudof continued. 'There are levers, like the vesting period, and employee
contributions, and how you treat new employees.'
"'I have no set views on that, other than I feel the
board and I have a fiduciary responsibility to put
this on a path to fixing it.'
"Yudof said he would move ahead with a task force that
also will examine the university's $13 billion retiree health care liability, an unfunded
obligation that is growing by more than $1 billion a year.
"The abrupt turnabout in the pension fund's health could help build support for a union-sponsored initiative that would reconfigure the UC
pension board to give employees representation.
"'We all want a healthy fund, but we want a seat at the
table,' said Lakesha Harrison, president of the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees, which represents about 20,000 UC health and service workers."
In more Blue and Gold news, "A much-debated plan by the University of California to expand
its freshman applicant pool and reduce the tests required
for admission won final approval Thursday from the Board of Regents," reports Larry Gordon in the Times.
"The new rules, among other changes, mean that applicants
will no longer be required to submit scores from two
SAT subject exams but as before, must take the main
SAT or ACT test, as well as 15 UC-approved college prep courses in high school and keep
a minimum 3.0 grade-point average. The policy shift will take effect for
current high school freshmen who seek UC admission
for fall 2012.
"The changes are the latest in a series of controversial
steps by UC over the last decade that backers say were
needed to shift the university away from a purely mechanical
admissions process that favored more affluent students
from suburban schools with top-flight counseling, and whose families could afford
test coaching. Many critics, however, have viewed the
changes as a watering-down of standards and as attempts to get around the
state ban on affirmative action in public university
"Faced with a funding shortfall stemming from the state
budget crisis, San Jose State University plans to increase tuition next fall and cut graduate
enrollment by 400 students and undergraduate enrollment by 3,000 students," reports Lisa Krieger in the Merc News.
"The campus will also urge "superseniors" — those with enough credits to graduate, but haven't — out the door.
"'Limiting the number of students is not easy,' President Jon Whitmore said at a campus forum Thursday, describing his plans.
'Working together, with thoughtful management, we will
weather this storm.'"
And anyone looking for too much information about Jerry
Brown, just turn to Facebook. Josh Richman reports
Brown has filled out a questionaire that's making the rounds on the social networking sight, and it offers some insight into his past, and future.
Among the factoids Brown reveals to his Facebook friends: "In 1958, I took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Later, Pope John XXIII dispensed me from these obligations.
"I was a cheerleader at St. Ignatius High School.
"I knocked my opponent to the canvas in a 3 round boxing match at Senior Fight Night."
And then, there's this suggestive tidbit. "The first time I became Governor, I followed an Actor
Finally, there has been a weird smell over New York
City, and, yes, it's from New Jersey.
"City investigators have tracked down the source of a maple syrup smell
that has puzzled New Yorkers several times in recent
years . No offense, New Jersey, but it was you.
"The harmless but long-confounding smell, which has drifted through swaths
of the city at least nine times since 2005, was traced to a facility across the Hudson River
that processes seeds for use as artificial flavorings.
"Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that a team of odor investigators — environmental protection, health department and emergency
management workers — "put our noses to the ground" to identify the culprit after another whiff in early
"The investigation involved mapping the time and place
of all the odor complaints to the city's 311 hot line, data that were then compared with wind and
atmospheric conditions. Those were checked against
air sampling tests during the periods that New Yorkers
reported smelling the odor."