Economy

Some California officials avoid using furloughs to trim budgets

State agencies run by independently elected officials so far have weathered budget cuts Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger imposed on them this year without furloughs or significant staff cuts.

While about 1,100 of the 4,000 workers at the Board of Equalization may lose their jobs, other constitutional officers say they're handling their shrinking budgets without furloughs or layoffs of full-time employees.

Union officials fighting the three-day-a-month furloughs say the experience of constitutional officers' departments proves more than 200,000 furloughed state workers are suffering needlessly.

"I think the fact that any department can cut expenses without laying off or furloughing people shows how unnecessary the furloughs are," said Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear responded: "We understand the union bosses believe that state workers should be shielded from making the same sacrifices as everyone else in the state. We disagree."

Schwarzenegger ordered 235,000 state workers to take two days without pay starting in February, then upped it to three "Furlough Fridays" in July. He said the policy, which reduces employees' pay by about 14 percent, equitably shares the state's economic pain without mass layoffs.

But about 16,000 state workers haven't been furloughed in defiance of the order. Those employees work for Controller John Chiang, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, Attorney General Jerry Brown and the Board of Equalization.

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