They'll Be Back: Guv Orders More Furloughs for State Workers

By Judy Lin
|  Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010  |  Updated 1:51 PM PDT
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CORTE MADERA, CA - JULY 10: A California Department of Motor Vehicles customer peers into the door of a closed DMV branch July 10, 2009 in Corte Madera, California. As California struggles with a $26-billion budget imbalance, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency earlier this month and has ordered three work furlough days per month leaving most state offices closed today. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday brought back furloughs for thousands of state workers until California passes a budget.

Schwarzenegger released a new executive order requiring state workers to take three unpaid days off per month starting next month. State workers were furloughed a total of 46 days when Schwarzenegger issued a similar order in February 2009, which translated to a pay cut of about 14 percent for workers.

It's unclear how long the latest round of furloughs could last as Schwarzenegger and lawmakers enter the fifth week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget.

"Without a budget in place that addresses our $19 billion budget deficit," Schwarzenegger said in a statement, "every day of delay brings California closer to a fiscal meltdown."

State Controller John Chiang has warned he will start issuing IOUs in August or September if the budget stalemate drags on in the Legislature.

The new order exempts employees who work for departments that collect revenue, including the Franchise Tax Board. It also exempts about 37,000 workers in six unions that recently reached tentative labor agreements with the administration.

The furlough puts pressure on other unions that have not agreed to the governor's demands for pension reforms. Unions have also been fighting the governor's efforts to impose the federal minimum wage while the state operates without a budget.

"To once again force state employees to take unpaid furloughs is just another punitive measure by Governor Schwarzenegger because he couldn't impose minimum wage," said Patty Velez, president of the California Association of Professional Scientists, which represents 11,000 state employees.

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