HEADLINES : California
Savings from state worker pay cut far from assured
SACRAMENTO, Calif.-Gov. Jerry Brown wants California's state government employees to take a 5 percent pay cut to help balance the budget, yet the savings he forecast in his revised budget proposal Monday are far from assured.
The Democratic governor must negotiate details of any cuts with dozens of labor unions that have been reluctant to accept wage rollbacks and hold enormous sway with the Democratic lawmakers who control the Legislature.
The governor's budget proposes shifting most state employees to a four-day, 38-hour week, which would save $839 million overall. But only about $402 million of that savings would come from the $91 billion general fund.
Still, Brown said he was optimistic about the cuts.
"We have contracts. We'll look at a variety of ways. State employees, particularly, have come forward with some very imaginative ideas," Brown said at a news conference. "They've been willing to step up to the plate even though they represent some people who are not paid all that much."
The employee pay cuts are part of Brown's pitch to voters, showing his willingness to trim state government as he seeks their approval of higher taxes in November.
Brown also is seeking sweeping reductions to public employee pensions, but his proposal has not gained much traction in the Legislature.
His proposed pay cuts for state employees are part of some $8 billion in new cuts proposed by the governor to address a budget shortfall that has ballooned to $15.7 billion for the 2012-13 fiscal year.