Judge furloughs questioned by assemblywoman

July 17, 2009 12:11:40 PM PDT
An East Bay assemblywoman says the governor is making a bad situation worse by furloughing judges who hear cases from the unemployed.

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Judges who sit on the State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board hear cases from individuals who are having problems with their unemployment claims. Like thousands of other California state employees, they have had to take three furlough days a month.

Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of Berkeley believes that California is losing out on federal money because the judges are being furloughed and there is no benefit to the state budget.

"Their positions are primarily funded by federal funds and thus being furloughed does not save the state a dime of money," said Skinner.

"Overall I waited four months before I was able to start collecting unemployment, and even so, I consider myself one of the lucky people who had a severance package from my previous employer that helped me go through this time," said Christine Wiley.

"If they are not able to get their work done, they should consider changing their union rules which, unlike most unemployment judges, dictate a maximum amount of cases they can consider per week," said the governor's spokesman Aaron McLear.

Skinner was not aware that the judges could only handle so many cases per week. A member of Skinner's entourage said that the governor is acting illegally by having these furloughs in some cases. The furloughs have been ruled legal and the governor said they are needed to deal with the state budget crisis.

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