Saturday, February 7, 2009

...Let's Look On The Brightside

Workers took their first unpaid day off yesterday in response to California's deepening fiscal crisis. What do the DMV, Fish and Game, Food and Agriculture, Calpers (the biggest U.S. public pension fund) Social Services and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing have in common? Are they all partaking in Fresh Air Fridays ala the local elementary school children?

No, something a bit more fun: Furlough Fridays - all 200,000 employees. Why is this a big deal? It's sort of like Canada sending home it's work force. The International Monetary Fund says California has the world’s seventh-largest economy, with a $1.5 trillion GDP. The governor has declared a fiscal state of emergency, enabling him to order the furloughs of state employees for two days a month (first and third Friday's of the month) through June 2010 amid California's budget crisis. State parks, which generate revenue from entrance fees, will remain open, as will state courts, the secretary of state's offices, California Highway Patrol offices and campuses of the University of California, Cal State and California Community Colleges. Public safety employees are exempt from the Friday furloughs and can schedule their days off differently. Back of the envelope estimates show a savings of $1.4 billion through June 2010, the end of the next fiscal year - certainly not chicken scratch.

The Republican governor and the Democrat-dominated Legislature remain at an impasse over how to balance the state's budget. Any word on the Legislators taking unpaid furloughs? Thought not. Just when you thought your DMV experience could not become any more unpleasant.

I see a PR move for the Govenator. Bulging biceps sporting a cardigan sweater ala Jimmy Carter and setting the example with his own office up in Sacramento. Do you think he gave up his own admin? How about the smoking tent?

How might this affect my world? I see my friday matinee movie being over whelmed by these furloughed friends. On the bright side at least the local economy gets a mini boost.

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