State workers tend to be professors or prison guards

April 16, 2010

It’s a familiar  refrain heard in any election year: What we really need to do in Sacramento is cut state jobs.

Not so fast, according to the nonpartisan California Budget Project which reports that most state workers tend to be either college professors or prison guards, combining for a total of 60 percent of the positions. [California Watch]

For the most part, the state Department of Corrections budgets have been off-limits to the budget axe in Sacramento, due mostly to the public’s embrace of tough anti-crime positions, such as “Three Strikes.”

University of California is the biggest employer of state workers with 24 percent. Corrections is 17 percent. California State University is third with 14 percent (Department of Education and other offices get the number up to 60 percent).

Overall, California ranks 48th among 50 states when it comes to the ratio of state employees per 10,000 residents.

Bottom line: Any candidate who claims to have a plan on cutting state jobs will have to address the impact on education and Corrections.



  1. mkaney says:

    By describing themselves as non-partisan this group is simply participating in the mass hypnosis of the citizenry, improperly using language in order to constrain the thought process of the average citizen within a tiny little box.

    non-partisan: A person or group that is non-partisan does not support or help a particular political party or group. ADJ
    Synonym: neutral

    This group is not aligned with Democrats or Republicans, rather it’s aligned with BOTH of them. It is not neutral and does not for a second view the situation from any non-statist or non-conventional viewpoint. It is also tries to manipulate thought by using a straw-man argument, trying to separate the concept of the *state* workforce from the context of the larger argument for reducing the overall base of public employees AND/OR cutting their existing pensions. It states:

    “In 2009-10, the state will spend an estimated $22.2 billion on
    state employees’ salaries, equal to 17.8 percent of total spending
    (Figure 3). More than two-thirds (68.1 percent) of state salaries
    goes to workers in the UC, the CSU, the CDCR, and transportation
    departments (Figure 4).7 While health and pension costs increase
    the share of the budget spent on employee compensation, state
    workers’ compensation still accounts for a relatively modest share
    of the budget.8 This reflects the fact that more than seven out of
    10 dollars that fl ow through the state’s budget are considered
    “local assistance” – they go to schools, local governments, health
    care providers, or individuals as cash assistance payments.”

    However, at no point does it actually state the how MUCH health and pension costs increased the share of the budget spent on employee compensation. Then it goes on to just set aside 70% of the budget simply because it is given to local and individual jurisdictions. Clearly, massive cuts could be made in LOCAL budgets too. But no one is arguing for the reduction of only the state workforce (hence the strawman argument), we’re arguing for the reduction of the public workforce in general.

    BOTTOM LINE:Any candidate who does not have a plan on cutting state jobs, including those in education and corrections, will have to address the impact of BANKRUPTCY.

    (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
    • willie says:

      I regretably and realistically concur.
      You forget to included more tax increase with this sad reality.

      (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
  2. ds_gray says:

    Saying that State Workers tend to be Professors or Prison Guards is akin to saying that federal workers tend to be presidents. The entire premise of the headline is laughable. The actual percentage of employees employed by the UC system that are professors is small. The UC system has its own HR, administrative, legal, and management staff, as does dept. of corrections and the Cal State system.

    There are MANY ways to consolidate redundant functions, as is done in the private sector all the time, to reduce the budget bloat. The problem is, when you cut a state job, you cut a vote for the incumbent, so its NEVER a popular move. That is one reason government never shrinks despite the economic need.

    The State’s income is going down, the costs have to be reduced. Period. The 100k Palin argument does not address the real issue of too many people producing too little and making too much. Government pensions and ‘sweetheart deals’ made under Gray Davis’ administration also need to be unwound. There is no reason that a retiree should be making 110% of his pay the day after he retires.

    (15) 25 Total Votes - 20 up - 5 down
    • hotdog says:

      Good comments but why the hit on Gray, after all these years? I thought Arnie was going to ‘clean up the mess’. In fact I think Gray got a raw deal (and therefore we did), he worked his buns off to protect us from Enron and suits like that. I’m a union supporter but not when it leads to graft, overpay and the like.
      I have no pension, I had to plan my life and save for my golden years, I wonder why others get paid after they quit working. That sort of thing leads to slothful living, counting on a nest egg later while spending all you have now. Great for a rampant consumer society, not good for long term growth and intelligent living.

      (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
      • ds_gray says:

        Why the hit on ‘Gray’ (as in Davis)? Because he was the one who signed the contracts that led to some of the most generous pension and benefit packages in the history of pension / benefit packages! He was a drunken sailor spending money (which wasn’t his) to enrich people in specific interest groups in the future. This kind of reckless spending only works as long as the economy keeps growing… and it didn’t. It shrank. The state is LOSING citizens at a rate that exceeds the immigration rate (illegal or otherwise) which means the tax base is shrinking. Lower property valuation means the property tax revenue stream is shrinking as well. Pension plans that rely on investments have lost value while the number of pensioners increases. This is the ‘perfect storm’ of government funding crises. And the ONLY way out of it is to reduce the size of the government and its liabilities. There is far more money flowing out of Sacramento than flowing in, the debt is going to cripple the state and our bond rating will be at ‘Junk’ status if the state doesn’t STOP SPENDING!

        (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
  3. uncomfortabletruth says:

    The department of corrections survives the budgetary axe because the legislature lives in complete fear of the guards union CCPOA. Texas and Florida have similar prison populations but their per day cost is about 1/3 of California’s.

    Every time an expose by the media or hearings in Sacto concentrate on the dept of corrections and their outrageous pay / overtime / pension costs, CCPOA flexes their muscles and our elected state officials run away frightened, determined not to address the elephant in the room.

    Until we elect people to go up to Sacramento that have an agenda other than re-election, the state of the state will only decline further.

    (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down
  4. hotdog says:

    Before cutting jobs we should seek more efficiency in the operations of all areas of government (and the private sector). There are too many ‘consultants’, distant ‘meetings’ and similar extravagances. There are too many lights on, too much heating and cooling, too much of almost everything. A little sense and concern would go far to reducing our costs. Anyone could wander into any government or private office or business and find incredible waste of resources; energy and procedures could be streamlined easily-but we seem to be too lame to approach that aspect of our lives.
    Look at the latest Palin flap with the 100 grand she is demanding for a little speech at a State campus. What a waste, no matter what attitude one has. They say it is ‘private’ money from the college foundation-bull. Anything attached to the college should allocate their money to education issues, not inflating the bloated ego and purse of a speaker-especially one of this low quality.

    (5) 27 Total Votes - 16 up - 11 down

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