Furloughs leave state workers scraping by

July 22, 2009 6:43:32 PM PDT
The budget agreement locks in those Friday furloughs for state workers for a year. One union is threatening to go on strike because the furloughs amount to a 14 percent pay cut that is creating some real hardships.

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"It happened so quickly, it just blew me away," state worker Karen Hogan said.

For Hogan, forced furloughs have led to financial disaster.

"In six months, there are effects that have happened to me that are now going to be there for 10 years," Hogan said.

Until December, Hogan took home $2,100 per month as an office assistant for the Department of Public Health. She owned a condo in Oakland, purchased five years ago. Her life as a single woman wasn't extravagant, but she was getting by.

That is, until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger imposed two furlough days per month on state workers, cutting their salary by 10 percent.

The $260 per month in lost take home pay pushed Hogan too far.

"Credit lines disappear, don't have cash, can't pay with cash; OK, so then the paycheck's been reduced, so where do I go," Hogan said.

Hogan says her credit score has plunged from 706 to 566 and she will lose her condo to foreclosure.

Starting this month, the governor increased the number of monthly furlough days to three.

"I am so angry; I am frustrated and it goes into everyday we come to work," state worker Gwendolyn Patterson said. "So they think the state workers didn't work then, how do you think we feel now, just working for pennies?"

Jay Bloodsaw's wife works for the state. He for the city of Oakland, which also furloughs its workers.

"I am going to lose so many days per year, thousands of dollars; but you can look at it one way, we're still fortunate to be employed," Bloodsaw said.

In the seven months since the furloughs began, Hogan has gone from owning a condo in Oakland, to renting a small apartment in Richmond. She says if she has to do it again, her next move will be out of California.

Even if she leaves the state Hogan says she is still headed for bankruptcy.

LINK: California Furlough Friday schedule

LINK: List of offices open to the public on Furlough Fridays

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