This is monumentally stupid, counterproductive and illogical. When Arnold ordered all state workers to take furloughs he insisted that there we absolutely no exceptions. That edict is costing the state government and causing harm to the some of the most vulnerable Californians. Merc:
The governor, in the interest of fairness and simplicity, has insisted that his unpaid time off policy, which covers about 235,000 workers, be implemented across the board. So that means no exceptions even for the one state agency – a team of nearly 1,400 employees who review claims for federal disability payments – funded entirely by the feds.
Sending those employees home one day a month means the state will forgo about $10 million – or 5 percent of the agency’s $210 million annual budget – from Washington, without saving state government any money. Meanwhile, it’s taking the agency longer to process claims, delaying disability benefits at a time when such requests are soaring.
“There really is no reason to do this, it’s a no-brainer,” said Pete Spencer, the regional commissioner for the U.S. Social Security Administration, which oversees the disability claims program. “If the governor is saying he wants to take all the money the federal government is offering, this is one area he’s not doing it.”
Spencer wrote to the governor twice since November to explain the problem, and early last month received from Schwarzenegger what appeared to be a form letter in response.
Lovely. Other states are not so stupid. Over a dozen of them have exempted departments funded by the feds from hiring freezes or furloughs. That’s just common sense.
This idiotic decision is causing a great deal of harm to those who are disabled and rely on the functioning of this department.
Spencer said the furloughs are prolonging the amount of time it takes for the agency to review benefit claims, forcing disabled people who qualify to wait longer for help. Also being put on the back burner are reviews of existing recipients to check whether they still qualify for benefits. Paring ineligible people from the rolls saves California money because the state pays a share of disability benefits, known as Supplemental Security Payments.
The Schwarzenegger administration is trying to defend itself by saying it is an “equity issue”. Screw equity. Make decisions based on merit and efficiency. One size never fits all.