Sacbee — California paid more than a quarter-billion dollars to cash out state employee leave last year, according to a new state report, in part because furloughed state workers haven't been taking as much paid time off.
The report from the office of Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor says employee leave cash outs cost $270 million in 2011-12 and concludes that the liability in future years is so heavy that lawmakers should consider a leave-buyback program rather than carry the time on the books. The Legislative Analyst's Office also suggests the state impose a "use-it-or-lose-it" policy on future leave accruals and clamp down on enforcing the state's leave cap, which some departments have routinely ignored.
Furloughs have cut the state's employee payroll costs by about $5 billion since fiscal 2008-09 when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers imposed them, but the savings are less, the analyst says, because employees have taken less paid leave.
Those hours, in turn, stack up in employees' leave banks. Since unused time is cashed out at a worker's final pay rate when he or she leaves state service leave balances gain value to an employee -- and costs the state more -- with every raise or promotion.
"Probably nearly $1 billion of these furlough savings was not long-term savings," the LAO concludes. "Instead, the state must pay this money as they retire or otherwise leave state service."
The state's employee-leave balance tab hit $3.9 billion in June 2012, according to the analyst. continue reading...