While this year’s annual budget impasse lasted a record 100 days, I just now discovered that the state senate has approved fiscal 2010-11 after an all-night session. The assembly had already passed the budget bills. Boy, these guys and gals work hard. 

(Why we have two houses of the legislature and each has to get budgets passed by two-thirds majority is just beyond stupid, but don’t get me started…)

Our governor, who will vacate his office and hotel suite in Sacramento this year and return to movie stardom, apparently got what he wanted: Union concessions.

Granted, these are government workers we’re talking about, and Democrats helped broker a deal with the state’s largest union (SEIU Local 1000) that would offer a lower tier of pension benefits for workers hired beginning in mid-November.

Some prison and social services reforms were also in the mix, as well as some highly dubious “near future” sources of funding (that this year also did not actually appear and added to the $19 billion deficit).

So, we’ll wait a bit and see what kind of hole Jerry or Meg will have to dig out of next summer.

Not too much reaction from the industry yet. Paul Meyer, executive director of the American Council of Engineering Cos. of California was first in line. He says that the 39,000 job losses nationally in September revolve around situations like legislature-caused delays in passing timely budgets.

“In the middle of a debilitating recession, California’s private engineering firms have often been required to self finance their employees’ salaries while waiting to get paid for the work they have already completed,” he says.
 “We should not forget that repetitive delays in passing state budgets exact a significant annual cost on jobs and job creation here in California. Delays in state payments create an especially terrible hardship for small businesses, not only to create new jobs but to keep paying and retaining existing employees.”  

Meyer gets a jab in about Caltrans’ staff engineers: California relies too heavily on taxpayer-funded state employees to do the state’s engineering and surveying work, while private sector firms are forced to lay off workers and cut jobs, he says.

“In contrast, other states make much greater use of private firms to speed project delivery, access specialty expertise when needed and avoid long-term pension costs.”

We shall see…