When Governor Schwarzenegger decided to impose blanket furloughs on state workers, he may have inadvertently worsened the state’s longterm cash flow issues.

By not including California’s corrections officers in a furlough exemption, he caused thousands of state employees to accrue mllions of hours in extra paid time off.

The former Governor carved out exemptions for other 24 hour per day departments, including CalFire and CHP, but did not acknowledge that prisons are a 24 hour per day job.

With chronic understaffing already forcing many corrrections officers to work overtime, forcing three days off per month that they couldn’t take required them report to duty unpaid, and thereby accumulate more than $1 billion in paid time off.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The fact that corrections employees have saved large amounts of paid time is not a new issue. In January 2000, state auditors warned that poor management of sick time was causing the prison agency to pay excessive overtime, that the department could face a cash flow problem if too many employees retired at once and cashed out their balances, and that the entire situation has the perverse effect of discouraging workers from seeking promotion “because they can easily earn as much as, or more than, their supervisors by working overtime.”

In October 2009, a report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes concluded that furloughs severely compounded the problem – driving up unused vacation time by 500 percent compared to the year before.

Meanwhile, state workers who retire and cash out are compensated for all the banked hours at their highest pay rate.

Read the full article here.