News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wisconsin asks prosecutors to take 6 furlough days, or alternatively, part time status

Journal-Sentinel headline is not born out in the article. No one was given a layoff notice or threatened with one. They were asked to take furlough days, the alternative to which would be remaining on the job part time rather than full time.

4/7/11, "State prosecutors get layoff notice," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, B. Vielmetti

"Wisconsin's assistant district attorneys have been notified that they will all become part-time staffers -- and lose commensurate pay and benefits -- if they don't agree to take six more furlough days by June 30.

The news came in a letter from the Office of State Employee Relations to David Feiss, the president of the roughly 350-member Association of State Prosecutors, or ASP.

The letter warns that if the prosecutors don't take the furlough days, the state might also be on the hook for more than $11 million in paybacks to other state employees who took 16 furlough days over the past two fiscal years. Some other state employees' bargaining units had agreed to accept those unpaid days off only with provisions that if any bargaining unit wound up taking fewer furlough days, that would apply to the rest.

  • Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco quickly condemned the proposal.

“This is intimidation, pure and simple in my mind,” DeCecco said in a news release. “If prosecutors don’t agree to waive their negotiated limit of five (5) days furlough per year, which the State agreed to in their current contract, OSER will reduce their classifications affecting not only their pay, but all benefits.”

"Don’t they realize the havoc that will create in the criminal justice system? Do they have any concern about public safety or is their bottom line only to embrace the ‘state is broke’ phrase?” DeCecco asked.

Feiss, an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County, said Thursday that the ASP was still digesting the proposal, and no meetings had even been scheduled yet with OSER.

"I don't think it's safe to presume anything at this point," he said."Honestly, we have a lot of questions as to how this would work."

The Doyle administration sent layoff notices to prosecutors at the end of 2009, which led to similar concerns about prosecutor staffing last year, before the budget issues were resolved without further layoffs.

If prosecutors agree to take six more furlough days in the next six weeks, they would only lose pay,

  • not proportional benefits, according to the OSER."
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Reference: "Concern about local pension excesses has driven Gov. Jerry Brown to push for a law that would impose limits on the retirement plans municipalities could offer."...

4/8/11, "Governments continued to enhance pensions amid economic collapse," LA Times,

"The bills for enhanced pension benefits in Costa Mesa, San Bernardino and other cities and agencies are coming due. Drastic cuts and legal battles are just some of the consequences."

"Scores of California government agencies continued to sweeten employee pension plans even after the state's economy began collapsing into recession in 2008, a decision that is now haunting them as they struggle with deficits and deep budget cuts.

A state oversight panel has identified about 180 local governments that increased pension benefits at a time when the state's unemployment rate was rising, housing prices were falling and the nation's banking system was in crisis. The enhancements covered thousands of public employees, adding tens of millions of dollars of new debt to local governments, analysts say.

Cities are now paying the price."...

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Governments are in fact going broke.


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