Welcome to furlough day, that time of year twice a month where state workers take a (government-imposed) break, stopping to smell the roses, think about the good times, and just be.
Scores of state offices will be closed today as more than 200,000 workers take their first unpaid day off in response to California's deepening fiscal crisis.
That means Californians won't be able to take a driver's license test or conduct business at some state office buildings [...]
Among the closed offices will be all Department of Motor Vehicles outlets, Fish and Game, Food and Agriculture, Social Services and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The Department of Mental Health will be closed, but mental hospitals will remain open. Workers Compensation offices will be closed.
State parks, which generate revenue from entrance fees, will remain open, as will state courts, the secretary of state's offices, California Highway Patrol offices and campuses of the University of California, Cal State and California Community Colleges. Public safety employees are exempt from the Friday furloughs and can schedule their days off differently.
I particularly enjoy that the Governor's Office of Emergency Services is closed. Good thing no emergencies happen on a Friday! I'd ask Arnold's press secretary about that one, but he's probably not working today.
The other offices that are closed are the Employment Development Department and the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The salaries of those employees are largely paid by the US Department of Labor, and so, while very little or no money will be saved, the jobless will find it harder to collect, which is probably the point.
Over the objections of the federal government, workers handling jobless assistance claims and appeals have been ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to go on furlough -- even though nearly all their salaries are paid by the U.S. Labor Department, and their days off will save the state very little or no money.
In a letter late last month, the department warned that furloughs could worsen the state's current "below standard performance" in meeting criteria for the timely handling of unemployment claims and appeals.
Failure to comply with the department's demands could violate Social Security laws, said the letter's author, Richard C. Trigg, regional administrator in San Francisco of the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration.
The governor's office said it was unmoved by the federal concerns.
Now that's the spirit of the furlough holiday season!
Somebody should ask Arnold if he's closing the unemployment office so people can't get their benefits. Maybe on Monday. Because, you know, he's a state employee, so he must be off today.
...I would actually be OK with a 4 day, 10 hour work week that would save on energy and transportation costs and increase employee satisfaction as well as recruitment for state jobs. And if employees staggered their time off, government offices could stay open full-time. But this furlough is nuts.