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Controller: State computer system not up to making pay cuts
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2008 16:34:37 -0700

From: Paul Saffo [paul () saffo com]
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2008 7:20 PM
To: David Farber
Subject: Controller: State computer system not up to making pay cuts


Sacramento Bee

Controller: State computer system not up to making pay cuts
By Kevin Yamamura - kyamamura () sacbee com
Published 10:49 am PDT Monday, August 4, 2008
State Controller John Chiang said Monday an antiquated state computer
system makes it impossible to adjust the state payroll quickly to
issue minimum-wage checks to state workers. He said it would take at
least six months to make the change.

The Democratic controller has vowed to defy Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's executive order directing the state to pay workers
the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour until a budget agreement is
reached. He has previously asserted that the Republican governor's
order is based on an untested 2003 state Supreme Court legal opinion
and that he will continue issuing full paychecks to state employees.

But in a meeting with The Bee Capitol Bureau on Monday, Chiang said
that even if Schwarzenegger's legal reasoning were sound, the state
could not logistically retool its outdated payroll system in a matter
of weeks, as the governor has asked. If the change were eventually
made, Chiang also said it would take an additional nine to 10 months
to issue checks to employees for their full back pay.

"Pragmatically, we just can't get the system to work in a timely
manner for us to implement payment of minimum wage," Chiang said.

He warned that changing payroll so quickly could also lead to errors
that leave the state vulnerable to lawsuits from workers and triple
penalties known as "treble damages."

Schwarzenegger said last week his executive order is necessary to
preserve cash, ensure the state can pay its bills in September and
avoid heavy borrowing costs. Chiang again challenged that view,
asserting that the state will have enough cash to pay its bills and
that the order will do nothing to prevent the state from incurring any
more heavy borrowing costs than it would otherwise.


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