Judge Clarifies Who's Going to Work Friday

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- State agencies were scrambling Thursday to implement the first employee furloughs in California history, ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to save money in the face of a massive budget crisis.

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge on Thursday said his decision last week supporting furloughs for California government employees does not apply to elected officers. That means that some 15,000 employees who work for constitutional offices, such as the attorney general, treasurer and school superintendent, will not have to take days off without pay.

Judge Patrick Marlette ruled last week that Schwarzenegger has the authority to furlough other state employees. He has ordered them to take two days off a month without pay to help the state deal with a $42 billion budget deficit.

More than 200,000 state workers will take their first furlough day on Friday.

Marlette issued his order on Thursday responding to an inquiry from state Controller John Chiang, who wanted to know if the previous ruling applied to constitutional offices.

The judge responded that his previous order did not address that question because the elected officials were not party to the lawsuit. Each of the seven constitutional officers, other than the governor's office, has said they will not comply with Schwarzenegger's furlough order.

"We applaud, at least, this part of the judge's decision and we hope the constitutional officers will not furlough their employees and work with us to find other ways to cut costs," said Jim Zamora, spokesman for Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, the largest government employee union representing 95,000 state workers.


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Many agencies were trying to figure out whether some employees might be working on Friday, and others had not issued public notices on their Web sites about their closures.

The Department of Motor Vehicles Web site included a red text posting: "... all DMV Field Offices will be closed on the first and third Friday of every month."

Schwarzenegger's office says about 90 percent of the state's 238,000 employees are supposed to be off Friday. A Sacramento County Superior Court judge upheld the governor's executive order last week. 

Schwarzenegger's office projected the furloughs will save the state about $1.4 billion through June 2010. For state employees, the furloughs will amount to a 9.2 percent pay cut.

They will apply to 238,000 workers, although public safety and some other employees will be exempt.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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