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California Supreme Court says state furloughs were legal [Updated]

October 4, 2010 | 10:10 am

The California Supreme Court decided Monday that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acted legally when he ordered more than 200,000 state employees to take unpaid days off last year during the state’s fiscal crisis.

The state high court’s ruling was the first to address disputes between the governor and state workers over Schwarzenegger's orders that cut the pay of state employees. More than 30 lawsuits have been filed challenging the unpaid furloughs, and lower court rulings have been divided over their legality.

Lawyers for state employees argued that only the Legislature could cut employee pay, while the governor insisted he had unilateral authority in such cases.

[Updated at 11 a.m.: Schwarzenegger issued the following statement:

“As governor, I have had to make very difficult decisions in response to the world-wide economic collapse, including furloughs for state workers and line-item vetoes to balance our budget," he said. "These decisions were absolutely necessary to keep our state functioning. Today’s ruling upholds the state’s actions to protect taxpayers and ensure we live within our means, just like every California family and business must do.”

You can download the court's ruling here: Professional Engineers in California Government vs. Schwarzenegger.]

-- Maura Dolan and Shane Goldmacher