State workers unhappy with Brown's budget plan

Lilliberth Navarro protests the state's proposed new budget outside Governor Jerry Brown's offices in Los Angeles Monday, Jan. 10, 2011. Brown proposed a budget Monday for the coming fiscal year that deals with the state's ongoing deficit with tough medicine for nearly every Californian, making deep cuts to most areas of government while calling for a five-year extension of tax increases enacted in 2009. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

January 10, 2011 7:20:42 PM PST
A lot of people are upset about Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to cut spending and raise revenue, especially tens of thousands of state workers.

Along with the state workers are families, senior citizens and people with disabilities fighting to maintain funding for programs that they depend on. A group protested outside Brown's satellite office in San Francisco Monday.

"It's better to take our medicine now and get the state on balanced footing," Brown said of his plan.

With his budget, Brown will ask about 51,000 state workers to take their medicine in the form of an 8-10 percent pay cut starting next fiscal year.

"I'm unhappy, I'm very unhappy; we're already short staffed, we're working really hard and we're going to get cut," state worker Kathy Carver said.

Excluded from the future reductions are the 170,000 state workers who have already had their take-home pay reduced.

The new cuts would come from workers in six bargaining units that do not currently have contracts with the state. The job categories include: prison guards, state attorneys, park rangers, engineers and scientists.

"Being asked to take a cut, I think it's unfair; I think the governor and his staff should consider looking elsewhere," state worker Ronald Vargas said.

On the revenue side, Brown wants a special election this June. Voters will be asked to extend $9 billion in current sales and income taxes, along with the vehicle license fee for five years.

"We all know the problem of employee pension and retirement costs, those are going to have to be reigned in and extending these taxes again without real reform is just going to kick that can down the road," Kris Hunt, Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, said.

"I'm hopeful they'll want to do this, from what I've seen there is a reasonable prospect," Brown said.

But first, Brown will need a two-thirds vote of the legislature and at least some Republican support to even get the tax measure to the ballot.