Judge rules some furloughed state workers eligible for back pay

Some 50,000 state workers were illegally furloughed by the Schwarzenegger administration in an attempt to save the state money and are due back pay potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the time they missed, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled. The administration, which planned to file an immediate appeal, believes the state Supreme Court ultimately will rule in its favor.

The furloughs save the state, which faces a $20 billion shortage through the middle of next year, about $1.4 billion annually.

Roesch’s decision applies to nearly six dozen state offices or agencies that are financed by special fees, federal money or sources other than the General Fund, the state’s main repository of personal income and corporate taxes. Those agencies include two of the state’s largest operations – Caltrans and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The case is one of more than two dozen lawsuits, most of them filed by public employee unions, targeting the administration’s budgeting practices. A partial listing of those lawsuits can be found here.

Roesch ruled earlier that the administration’s policy of across-the-board furloughs violated state law. That decision, too, has been appealed.

The administration ordered state employees to take days off each month without pay – initially, it was two days a month between February and June in 2009. Last July, the governor ordered a third furlough day through June of this year, when they are scheduled to expire.

The Highway Patrol, among other public safety employees, were not covered by the furloughs.

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