SCHWARZENEGGER THREATENS 20000 LAYOFFS UNLESS CALIFORNIA BUDGET AGREEMENT REACHED BY FRIDAY

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Gov. Schwarzenegger holds a budget meeting Tuesday, January 27. The governor announced today that layoff warnings would be sent to 20,000 state workers.

BY KEVIN YAMAMURA

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will send layoff warnings to at least 20,000 state workers Friday unless he reaches a budget agreement with legislative leaders that precludes the need for such cuts, his office announced Tuesday.

The Republican governor intends to eliminate 10,000 full-time positions from the state’s general fund, either by job cuts, attrition or transfer to positions funded by special revenue streams, according to Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. The layoff notices would go to 20 percent of the least senior workers in each department, initiating a process to eliminate jobs by July 1.

The move would save $150 million in the next fiscal year, and Schwarzenegger already proposed the cuts in his January budget. He is also seeking to save roughly $75 million by eliminating two holidays and overtime pay on other state holidays. McLear said that if legislative leaders can agree by Friday to save $150 million in some way other than job reductions, the governor will not send his layoff notices.

Workers who receive layoff notices will not necessarily lose their jobs. Those workers can retain their jobs for 120 days upon receiving a “surplus” notice within the next month, according to state law. But they will be subject to layoff, demotion or transfer thereafter. The governor gave an informal warning to workers in a December letter that they were at risk.

The governor also could rescind the layoff notices if he and lawmakers reach a compromise after Friday that saves money through other means, McLear said.

Schwarzenegger and lawmakers continued to negotiate Tuesday on a budget deal to bridge an estimated $40 billion shortfall through June 2010. They are working on a general plan that includes a balance of taxes and cuts, as well as a cap on future state spending and rollbacks in environmental and labor regulations. But they continue to disagree over which combination of changes to impose.

See Related: WORLD POLITICS

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