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State Worker Worries Rise Amid Possible $68 Million California Budget Shortfall

SACRAMENTO — A possible $68 billion California state budget shortfall is worrying state workers and their union leaders and what it could mean in the new year.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 is bracing for impact. Bill Hall, the union’s board chair, said the shortfall has led to a lot of worry, especially given that the union signed a new deal within the last year that has yet to take effect.

State workers are worried they’ll be the next to go or be impacted.

“Working with the State of California, because of the policy, it presents some really difficult challenges, and as a union, I think Local 1000 is just going to have to get a lot more aggressive in how we fight and defend our membership,” he added.

But that hasn’t done much to allay the concerns of workers just yet.

Anna Hollingshead works with the Legislative Analyst’s Office and said word of the budget shortfall came around six months later than it normally would. She said pay cuts and a variety of other tools and strategies are on the table. One alternative is that one-time spending could be slashed.

In terms of worker cuts, Hollingshead said “We’re low-hanging fruit. They come to us early in the process before they’ve looked other places.”

Hall said the state should do that at its own risk as cutting workers is a drop in the bucket to the budget shortfall itself. A 10% pay cut across the board would only be $400 million of a $68 billion shortfall, and Hall said cuts could be prioritized elsewhere.  

“One in four desks are already empty,” Hall added. “You want to wait longer at the DMV?”

Hall said this budget shortfall represents a state problem and not a worker problem.

This boom or bust policy, it’s a tax policy. It’s a political solution,” he said.

Source : CBS News