Monday, July 19, 2010

California's Payroll 'Puzzle' Is Actually Very Simple

Did you hear the news last week that the Controller for the State of California, John Chiang, announced that it was technically impossible for the state to re-program its antiquated computer system to comply with Governor Schwarzenegger's order that all state employees' pay be temporarily reduced to minimum wage until a state budget is passed? He called it an "unsolvable puzzle" and then released a three-month study concluding that it would take two years and $8.7 million to reprogram the computers to accomplish.  And in the end, he says, that would be a waste of money because an entirely new state computer system is scheduled to be installed in 2012.

An "unsolvable puzzle," huh? Well, as the Los Angeles Times is reporting this morning HERE, eminent computer experts from across the state are now coming forward to dispute that assessment (saying it should take just a few months) while noting that the system has had no trouble "calculating dozens of raises for unionized employees" over the years.  Indeed, as it turns out state controllers have slow-rolled demands for over seven years that California's computerized payroll system be re-programmed to accommodate this precise change. 

Why have the state's controllers acted this way?  They are elected directly, not appointed by the governor. And, according to the LA Times, "Labor unions spent millions to elect Chiang in 2006 and so far are among the largest contributors to his reelection bid, giving more than $350,000 to his campaign."

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