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Apr 03, 2009 - 03:30 PM

Arnold's unpaid furloughs cost California $10 million

by Mark Reback
 
The San Jose Mercury News reported this week that when Gov. Schwarzenegger recently began sending state workers home on unpaid leave one day a month to save California money, in one instance, the furloughs are actually costing California millions of dollars.

Arnold insisted that his unpaid time off policy, which covers about 235,000 state workers, be implemented across the board, including the state agency -- a team of nearly 1,400 employees who review claims for federal disability payments -- funded entirely by the feds. Keeping those state employees home one day a month means California will forgo about $10 million -- or 5 percent of the agency's $210 million annual budget -- from D.C., without saving California state government any money. Meanwhile, it's taking the agency longer to process claims, delaying disability benefits at a time when such requests are soaring.

"There really is no reason to do this, it's a no-brainer," said Pete Spencer, the regional commissioner for the U.S. Social Security Administration, which oversees the disability claims program. "If the governor is saying he wants to take all the money the federal government is offering, this is one area he's not doing it."

A dozen-plus other states have exempted federally funded departments from hiring freezes or furloughs, including New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to the feds.

Twenty-three Democratic House members from California's congressional delegation wrote the governor in February and complained that furloughing the disability agency employees makes no sense. Let's see if Arnold finds some brains and some sense and listens.




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