No doubt public employee union leaders across California are applauding an Alameda Superior Court ruling that challenges the legality of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order furloughing more than 40,000 state prison system employees.
But for state employees outside the prison system and even those who work in prisons but are low on the seniority scale, there is less reason to celebrate.
If the state must pay illegally furloughed prison guards $32 million to $92 million in back wages, as union lawyers claim, California's already massive budget deficit grows even bigger.
The Legislature and the governor will have to come up with other ways to make up the revenue savings furloughs would have generated. That likely will require even more layoffs in prisons and elsewhere in state government.
The Alameda judge did not invalidate furloughs per se, he just struck down the way they were applied to prison employees.
Unlike most furloughed state workers whose offices close down three days a month, prison guards and others who work in 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operations are on self-directed furloughs. That means they must take time off equal to a three-day-a-month furlough when work duties allow.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.