Commentary: California needs to reexamine its workforce

To help close California's $26 billion budget gap, the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to reduce the cost of the state work force. The biggest cuts came in the form of three-day-a-month mandatory furloughs for most state employees. That represents about a 15 percent pay cut, a significant reduction and one that will be painful for workers and their families.

The furloughs will save the state $2.2 billion annually, $1.3 billion of that from the general fund.

While inconvenient for the public – as anyone who's tried to get a driver's license renewed on a furlough Friday can attest – furloughs are the most equitable way to cut costs. Without furloughs, more workers would have been laid off, and most of them would have been lower-paid, junior-level employees. That's neither fair nor efficient.

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