Peter Grigsby, Governor's Office
Governor Schwarzenegger has signed the executive order to cut thousands of state workers’ pay. A union representing many of them says it will sue.
The Governor apologized for taking the action that will lower the pay of some 200-thousand state workers to the federal minimum wage. That’s six-fifty-five an hour. He said he knew it would affect people who are already struggling. But the Governor said a potential cash shortage—with no state budget in place has left him with few choices.
“The problem here is really that none of this had to happen I’ve been saying this ever since the January budget that legislators should start negotiating immediately…”
Dana Meza works for the state Department of Motor Vehicles. She’s also a single parent.
“The pay cut, six-fifty-five an hour, it’s going to devastate my family.”
The Governor’s Executive Order also calls for lay-offs. More than ten thousand temporary employees across numerous state departments will receive pink slips immediately. Meza says that means longer lines at the D.M.V.
“When he’s doing this to state workers , and in turn he’s doing it to the public of California, because we’re the ones who provide the public services.”
The order also puts a hiring freeze into place. Lawmakers have been grappling for months with a 15-billion dollar deficit. Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines says it’s unfortunate it’s gotten to this point.
“And it’s a drastic decision but I think the Governor felt he had to do it to make sure he was being an executive that was trying to be as responsible as possible.”
Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says she was disappointed by the Governor’s move. She says she’s concerned about the effects on state workers and the economy.
“I’m worried as well as they are that if their pay is withheld then the economic crisis just gets worse.”
Bass says she believes legislative leaders will reach an agreement within a few weeks—perhaps before the pay cuts are felt. Meanwhile State Controller John Chiang has said he won’t comply with the Governor’s order. He doesn’t think Schwarzenegger has the legal authority to implement it. The Governor says he’ll do what it takes including taking Chiang to court. And the Service Employees International Union that represents many state workers is also preparing to file a lawsuit.