The two-day-a-month unpaid furloughs of state executive branch workers ordered in 2008 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger legally applied to employees of California's elected constitutional officers, an appellate court in Sacramento ruled Tuesday.
Applying the furlough order to the staffs of constitutional officers "does not violate the California Constitution's system of divided executive authority or impermissibly interfere with (the officers') statutory right to control the staffing and management of their respective offices," a three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal declared in a 47-page opinion.
Schwarzenegger resorted to furloughs as a cost-saving device in the face of an overwhelming budget deficit.
State Controller John Chiang refused to apply the furlough order to about 16,000 workers in government branches headed by officials elected by statewide vote.
The controller, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction and members of the Board of Equalization appealed a 2009 mandate by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette that Chiang comply with the governor's order.
Tuesday's opinion will not have an immediate impact on the workers, who were never furloughed, according to Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley.
"This just clarifies their status," she said .
The California Supreme Court last year held that Schwarzenegger's action was valid because it was ratified by the Legislature. But the high court left open the question of whether its decision extended to employees of elected constitutional officers.
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