Sacramento, Calif. California’s first-ever furloughs began Friday with more than 200,000 state workers expected to stay home without pay amid the state’s fiscal crisis.
Among the offices forced to close Friday were the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Consumer Affairs. The governor’s Office of Emergency Services also was dark as part of the cash-saving move ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Critical and revenue-generating agencies remained open, including fire stations, parks and employment centers that process unemployment insurance claims. California’s unemployment rate is 9.3 percent, a 15-year high.
At the state Department of Transportation, a handful of engineers showed up to work without pay because they didn’t want to get behind on projects they said were important to public safety.
Stan Slavin, an electrical engineer working on a traffic project in the San Francisco Bay area, said his partners at local agencies will be on the job so he was, too.
State agencies scrambled in the days before the furloughs took effect to avoid confusion for the public, such as people trying to register vehicles or obtain professional licenses.
Schwarzenegger ordered the two-day-a-month furloughs, reducing the average state worker’s salary by 9.2 percent, as he and lawmakers try to solve the state’s $42 billion budget shortfall.
The governor had hoped his order would apply to some 238,000 state employees, but each of the seven other constitutional officers have said they will not comply. Employees of the Legislature are not under his authority.