When state workers don't take vacation they've earned, they can cash out that time when they retire. Vacation time is piling up - 75 million hours, worth a whopping $2 and 3/4 billion dollars – money California doesn't have.
Part of the problem is forced unpaid furloughs. Three day a month furloughs translate into nearly a 15% pay cut, so workers have plenty of time off and less money for vacations.
But furloughs aren't the only problem – California has the most generous leave policy of any state. New York caps its leave at 300 hours. Excess hours must be taken or lost. Oregon's cap is 350 hours and only 250 can be cashed out.
By expensive contrast, California's annual leave cap is 640 hours, and even that is routinely ignored – and why not? Once accrued, vacation hours cannot be taken away, even if they are above the cap. One state employee cashed out $800,000 dollars in vacation when he retired.
Historically, no governor has bothered to keep tabs on this growing liability. That has to stop. California urgently need to adopt a "use it or lose it" policy – just like other states.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.