Commentary: Furloughs are best option for California

If you're starting to think that every new day in California brings a new challenge to the furloughs imposed on state employees, you're not too far off the mark.

Some of these objections raise legitimate arguments. But taken together, they also need to be understood as part of a strategy by the state's public employee unions to minimize painful but necessary cuts to the government payroll.

The latest challenges involve employees of the Franchise Tax Board and the state Department of Social Services. One set of employees contends that the furloughs will prevent them from collecting money on the state's behalf, while, ironically, the other group argues that the furloughs will hinder their ability to hand money out.

In both cases, that's probably true. Working three fewer days a month is going to cut into state employees' productivity. But all of this is the inevitable result of the unions' refusal to consider pay cuts earlier this year, and the Legislature's refusal to prod the unions in that direction.

State revenues fell from $103 billion in 2007-08 to $84 billion in 2008-09. With the help of a $10 billion tax increase approved in February, revenues are projected to climb back to about $89 billion this year. But that's still about 14% below the earlier level.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.