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State Supreme Court holds off on wading into furlough legal battle

April 22, 2010 |  1:16 pm

The California Supreme Court has decided against stepping into the ongoing legal battle over state worker furloughs, which force employees to take three days off without pay each month.

The court's decision Thursday was a setback for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wants to dispense with two dozen lawsuits unions filed against the furloughs. The Supreme Court has opted to wait for lower court rulings on those cases before wading in. Schwarzenegger had asked the court to consolidate some of the pending furlough lawsuits in hope of a faster resolution.

Schwarzenegger began furloughing the state’s more than 200,000 employees in early 2009 to address California’s budget shortfall. Many labor unions have since sued, arguing the governor overstepped his legal authority when he began forcing workers to take first two, then three unpaid days off each month.

Lower courts have provided mixed rulings thus far, some affirming the governor’s authority to furlough, with others siding with the unions. The high court’s decision Thursday ensures the legal battle will continue for many more months.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento