July 03, 2010

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Calif. state workers brace for minimum wage Some California state workers are preparing to tap into their savings while others already are cutting expenses as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s minimum wage order moved one step closer to reality. On Friday, the Schwarzenegger administration won an appellate court ruling saying it has the authority to impose the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour on more than 200,000 state workers as California wrestles with its latest budget crisis. It was not immediately clear if the state controller, who cuts state paychecks on a decades-old payroll system, will comply. The office says its computers are unable to make the change until an upgrade is completed in two years. The effect, however, was chilling for state government workers, many of whom say they have to prepare as if the pay cut will happen. “I feel like we have a target on our backs,” said Robert Blanche, a 20-year state worker in the disability division of the Employment Development Department. “My wife stays at home with the kids. This is our sole source of income. And people are going to lose their homes, lose their cars.” The loss of wages -- even temporarily -- for such a large work force would deal an especially harsh blow to the capital region, where one out of 10 workers is a state government employee. According to the state Employment Development Department, there were 84,600 state workers out of 819,100 people employed in the Sacramento region in May. The number is higher when counting colleges and universities.

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