- Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Citing budget conditions, the new leader of the state Senate announced Friday that he is restructuring the chamber’s administrative staff by laying off dozens of employees.

The Senate cut 39 out of nearly 1,000 staff positions, a move that comes just a month after Democrat Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles took over as president pro tem and after revelations of nepotism within the Senate’s administrative staff surfaced over the summer.

The chamber is without a personnel director after Dina Hidalgo retired in September following complaints that she abused her authority by hiring friends and relatives. Citing broad exemptions under California’s legislative records law, the Senate is keeping a taxpayer-funded report about its hiring practices secret.

On Friday, layoff notices went to staff members responsible for writing bill analyses, within a policy research arm and in an office services unit.

“These were all agonizing decisions, but they were unavoidable and made in the public interest,” de Leon said in a statement. “This Senate bears an ultimate responsibility to our constituents and to California taxpayers to live within our fiscal means, even when it means doing more with less.”

Danny Alvarez, who recently replaced the Senate’s longtime chief administrator Greg Schmidt, said the positions were eliminated to save money. The Senate is trying to close a projected deficit because it declined annual budget increases during the recession without making any layoffs.

The Legislature also is receiving a smaller budget increase under limits set by Proposition 140. Last year, the Senate and Assembly received a 5.8 percent increase. This year, the chambers will get an increase of less than 1 percent.

“Based on a rigorous and comprehensive review of the current fiscal condition of the State Senate, as well as its operations, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to eliminate certain staff positions and to restructure and reorganize some of the functions within the institution,” Alvarez wrote in a statement.

No layoffs are planned in the Assembly, said Debra Gravert, the Assembly’s chief administrative officer.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide