June 15, 2018
The Legislature approved the first ever $200 billion state budget yesterday and sent it to the Governor for his signature by June 30. Here is how a number of budget issues important to PECG members were resolved:
- On Caltrans’ staffing, at PECG’s request the Legislature reversed the Administration’s proposal to outsource half of the proposed 872 new positions in Capital Outlay Support (COS). Instead, state staff and outsourced positions will be divided according to the traditional Caltrans state staff to consultant ratio. If additional resources are needed in order to deliver SB 1 projects in the fiscal year, Caltrans will have access to a limited amount of one-time funding to hire additional state staff or consultants subject to legislative review and approval.
- PECG was successful in including language in the budget that will make it more affordable for self-help counties to utilize Caltrans for reimbursed work. The proposal caps Caltrans’ COS administrative overhead rate charged to self-help counties at 10 percent – a significant reduction and a new incentive to use the department for county-funded state highway and related work.
- A PECG-supported proposal to hire dozens of engineers and related professionals at DWR to ensure the safety of the State Water Project (SWP) is included in the final budget. The positions will be paid for by the state water contractors and DWR will be required to report to the Legislature by July 1, 2019 on their success in filling the positions and improving the safety and sustainability of the SWP.
- PECG also supported a budget proposal to create a safe drinking water fund at the State Water Resources Control Board to help upgrade the hundreds of public water systems in our state that do not meet minimum drinking water standards. Unfortunately, due to opposition from water districts who would have paid a new fee to help finance the fund, the proposal was not included in the final budget package. PECG will work with other stakeholders in hopes of reviving the proposal.
This week, PECG leaders and staff met with a number of directors for departments in which PECG members do important work on behalf of Californians.
On Monday, PECG met with Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) Director Robert David and his leadership team from the Facilities Development Division (FDD). Following a tour of the Sacramento office, participants discussed the relocation of OSHPD’s Los Angeles facility (including parking rates and other relocation issues), employee recruitment and retention updates and challenges, and a potential split class for Senior Architects. OSHPD reported that it does not outsource any FDD work.
Later on Monday, PECG met with Department of Conservation (DOC) Director David Bunn and his staff. Proposals to restructure the Engineering Geologist and Oil & Gas Engineer classification series, provide on-call pay for Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) engineers, and new training and development opportunities for DOC employees were discussed. DOC also reported that they do not outsource engineering and related work.
On Tuesday, PECG leaders and staff met with California State Architect Chester Widom and other management representatives from the Division of the State Architect (DSA) in the Sacramento Headquarters. Discussion items included workload and hiring, the relocation of DSA’s Los Angeles office to the same building as OSHPD in Downtown LA, a split class for Senior Architects, and new operational improvements at DSA, including division-wide implementation of all-electronic plan review. DSA is in the process of hiring eight plan reviewers and four supervising architects, and claims the significant school construction workload requires some outsourcing at this time. PECG requested specifics about how much work is being outsourced and at what cost.
As you know, the PECG Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) contains a variety of benefits. Some are provided automatically, but a few require employees to take the initiative. One of these is professional leave (MOU Section 5.15). Each fiscal year, a Unit 9 employee can request 16 hours for professional growth activity “at the employee’s discretion,” which “shall be requested and approved in the same manner as vacation/annual leave.” However, the professional leave is not accumulated from year to year, so if it is not utilized by June 30, it will be lost.
PECG now has an online e-application that allows you to sign up for membership in minutes. The new e-application can be accessed here. No more downloading, printing, faxing, mailing, or photographing forms to send to PECG Headquarters. Now you can fill out the e-application online, press “Click to Sign,” and become a PECG member immediately. The e-application is desktop and mobile friendly.