FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sep. 10, 2015
Contact: Amanda Smith (949-223-5037), Amanda.Smith@sen.ca.gov
BREAKING NEWS: #CALTRANS WATCH
Nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Issues Tough Criticism of Governor’s Recent Caltrans Engineer Pay Hike Deal
LAO says deal “places Legislature in difficult position so late in the legislative session.”
Three-year, seven percent pay increase also quadruples employee cash-out of unused vacation, costing State an additional $30 million.
“Based on their poor record, how can we trust Caltrans supervisors to even know when an employee is on vacation versus on the clock?” – State Senator John Moorlach
State Legislature to consider today budget trailer bill, AB 131, which contains this deal’s language.
(Sacramento, CA) – Today, the Legislature will likely consider AB 131 – the budget trailer bill that contains language for the seven percent Caltrans engineers pay hike deal negotiated last week by union leaders and the Governor.
But, according to a newly released review by the State’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), the deal is problematic and contains a hidden gem that allows Caltrans engineers to increase from 20 hours to 80 hours the amount of unused vacation that can be “cashed out” for additional bonuses. The LAO estimates this provision will increase costs to the State by $30 million.
“This agency, one that has an extremely poor record of tracking work days and vacation days, is now going to allow employees to cash out four times more unused vacation days?” asked State Senator John Moorlach. “How can we trust Caltrans supervisors to even know when an employee is on vacation versus on the clock? And, why should taxpayers foot an additional $30 million dollar cost for this benefit, in addition to the $500 million plus dollar pay hike?”
The entire three-year, seven percent pay spike for Caltrans Engineers will cost taxpayers an additional $571 million over the next four years.
An earlier audit by the LAO found the Caltrans engineering department to be overstaffed by 3,300 employees at a cost of half-a-billion dollars per year. At a Senate hearing three weeks ago, the LAO presented damning evidence about Caltrans’ poor management, bad data and lack of expenditure tracking systems.
The nonpartisan State Auditor followed up with a report two weeks ago revealing that one Caltrans engineer had golfed 55 days while “on the clock” over the past 18 months, and that Caltrans supervisors had signed his time sheets without even being able to verify the hours worked. In response, Caltrans’ top executives abruptly pulled out of their previously planned, work-week golf outing.
“Californians are being asked to increase taxes to pay for the repairs that Caltrans is already supposed to be fixing,” continued Senator Moorlach. “While Caltrans is not the only problem to our road funding, their inefficiencies, poor expense and budget tracking, and lack of good management practices has contributed substantially to our bad roads.”
The new agreement does address the growth in retiree medical costs by enacting pre-funding for retiree medical, but the timeline allows the legislature little opportunity to review these changes, examine actuarial tables for future impact, and make an informed decision on passage of the deal. As the LAO points out, “The administration’s lack of attention to such important details places the Legislature in a difficult position so late in its session.”
“We need significant retiree medical modifications,” concluded Senator Moorlach. “The Governor fell far short and is getting absolutely nothing for the generous pay raises. The state could use a professional negotiator, and it should adopt greater openness and transparency in labor negotiations.”
About Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa):
State Senator John Moorlach represents the 37th District of California, is a trained Certified Financial Planner and is the only CPA in the California State Senate. He gained national attention 20 years ago when he was appointed Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector and helped the County recover from its bankruptcy filing – at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. History.