Lockyer to Schwarzenegger: Kiss my grits

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to require state workers to take two mandatory, unpaid furlough days — the first and third Fridays of every month — in order to help defray a tiny fraction of the state’s whopping budget deficit. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer is having none of it.

Gubernatorial directives can’t be imposed on constitutional officers such as the Treasurer, or the agencies they head; Lockyer sent a letter Friday to Department of Personnel Administration Director David A. Gilb rejecting the governor’s request.

“(W)e believe that the Governor has not established that he has the legal authority to impose furloughs and the related salary cuts on state employees,” Lockyer wrote in the letter, adding he’s “acutely aware of the serious financial issues” the State confronts and noting his office has “worked successfully with the Department of Finance throughout the year to reduce our costs and increase our revenues.”

He and his staff will keep cutting costs wherever possible, he wrote, but “we will not comply with an Executive Order that we are convinced does not rest on solid legal grounds and which would impose such a hardship on the backs of our employees.”

And what’ll the other constitutional officers — Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi; Attorney General Jerry Brown; Controller John Chiang; Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell; and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, practically all of whom have gubernatorial aspirations — do about Schwarzenegger’s furlough directive? Stay tuned.

UPDATE @ 1:35 P.M. MONDAY 1/12: This just in from Garamendi: “We have already cut the Lieutenant Governor’s budget by 10 percent this year and we will cut another 10 percent this year. We are public servants for the people of California so we will not be furloughing our staff.”

UPDATE @ 4:57 P.M. MONDAY 1/12: And there you have it: The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert now says none of the Democratic statewide constitutional officers will go along with the furloughs.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.