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Furloughs eyed for Capitol staffers

Legislative leaders are considering forced furloughs for more than 2,000 Capitol staffers, a move similar to that already imposed on state government workers by the Schwarzenegger administration. Each furlough day per month would amount to a 4.5 percent pay cut.

The action, although relatively small in the context of the state's budget shortfall, is part of a series of cuts that lawmakers are considering to fill a $24 billion budget hole.

Capitol sources said the possibility of furloughs was floated privately among the leadership of both houses. Legislative employees, unlike most Civil Service, state-government workers, are not subject to collective bargaining agreements. Capitol workers could be furloughed through administrative action that does not require legislation, sources said.

One proposal considered in the Capitol entails a 4.5 percent cut in daily pay. The Legislature has 2,136 employees and a total, annualized budget of about $132.7 million. By one estimate, the reduction would save perhaps $5 million annually in payroll costs, perhaps more.

Unlike the furloughs ordered for the state bureaucracy, which occur on alternate Fridays, the Capitol furloughs likely would be more flexible. During bill deadline and end-of-session periods, for example, Capitol workers could continue working, then take their furloughed days after the Legislature recesses for the year.

The two days a month in furloughs for state government workers amounted to a pay reduction of just under 10 percent and saves the state an estimated $1.3 billion in payroll costs.

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