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California Supreme Court says state furloughs were legal [Updated]

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

Comments () | Archives (17)

Glad to see cutting wages is ok'd by decree. Layoffs are legal, I still don't believe furloughs are just becuase a lower court backs the Governor.

The economy is in poor shape, we are not in recovery mode yet, yes we need reform, but done morally and legally, not what's easiest for the politicians, what's right.

Good article on our economy by a couple high school kids at http://USNewsReader.com. Sums up California in a nut shell.

Good to hear, now he should cut all of their pay and cut our taxes.




Erroneous! The court actually held that the Governor broke the law by unilaterally imposing furloughs but the Legislature later legally did it by writing them into the budget. ARNOLD BROKE THE LAW!

You need to read the actual ruling. What the court said was that, "Schwarzenegger did NOT have unilateral authority to impose furloughs but that the Legislature tacitly agreed to them by passing budget bills that assumed furlough savings."

Furloughed state employees need to remember this in November - and VOTE.

It appears collective bargaining agreements don't mean anything anymore.

baby steps...I doubt we will get this lucky again.

Can he furlough legislators, too? :)

The taxpayer funded governemnet employye should be cut in line with the private sectors. They should contribute in line with the private sectors healthcare, pension plans and all perks. They are civil servants so thyeir pay should be a lots less.

I love this! Why should state workers be any more exempt from layoffs than any normal company that is going broke? Hey state workers: If you don't like it, go get a job in the private sector and see what actual "work" feels like! :)

Gee, I wonder if the union's lawyers want to take it all the way to the supreme court. KA-CHING!

Good job Governor. And you too california Supreme court. Glad to see we still have some adults in charge. I don't want pain for public employees, but opposing furloughs when we're 19 billion in the red was insane.

And who is paying all these lawyers? And others who are involved in this mess? Someone has to be accountable! In this case the Terminator is. He is the boss! His orders should be followed out and not challenged. The Calif workers must sustain the hit just like everyone else is, like myself.

To address some of the comments posted below:
The majority of state employees are not paid through the General Fund; they are specially funded and not directly by tax payers. I know, just a little silly fact that many will deny because it goes directly what you would like to believe. In other words, YOU DO NOT PAY MY SALARY!

Having said that that, YOU ARE PAYING LEGAL FEES that the moron Governor that many SoCAL residents voted for. Why do people who reside in your area believe that movie stars make great governors and presidents???? THEY DO NOT! "Has been" CEO's do not make great governors nor Senators either, but that will inevitably be yet another fact that many voters in SoCal will choose to ignore and deny!

Whenever comments are "moderated," one has to wonder the purpose of such "invitation" and if there is a desired opinion?

Your report doesn't trample on details of interest to residents of CA fed up with UNIONS AMOK.

Those furloughed without pay hoped to recover pay; OR they were NOT FURLOUGHED and now should refund the pay to the CA Treasury?

In either case, UNIONS are now getting WHACKED and it is long overdue!

So much for the legislature being owned and under the control of labor unions. They could have stopped this and did nothing. More furloughs coming because they assumed 10% reduction in payroll for the budget coming Thursday and no new contract has been signed. SEIU should just do the same deal the other unions did or hope Jerry undoes the damage in January.

A major problem with the ruling is that it did not take into account Federal Laws. The State Supreme Court failed in their duties to look at all the laws. The State of California is required to meet all Federal laws. The State uses and figures into the budget moneys that come from the Federal Government. The Furloughs violated Federal Laws which the Lower Stare Courts ruled in accordance.

The Supreme Court therefore have in their sworn duties.


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