March 23, 2017

The Legislature and the Governor are continuing to work on a bill to provide additional transportation funding in California. The parties seem to be getting closer to agreeing on the amount which should be provided (around $5 billion per year), the best approach to raise the funds, how the money would be split between the State and local agencies, and the modes of transportation (highway, transit, etc.). The Governor and legislative leaders set April 6 as a goal for reaching agreement on the bill, which would require two-thirds approval of both the Assembly and the Senate.

If additional funding is not provided, Caltrans staff will continue to be reduced next year, with minimal hiring to offset attrition. Additional funding would, of course, increase Caltrans Capital Outlay Support (Engineering Program) staff for the first time in years.

Caltrans is working on $660 million worth of storm repair work, by far the largest number of projects (274 at present) and cost in many years. While federal emergency funding will be sought to reimburse the state, the required Congressional and Administration approval process could take years.

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These were among the topics discussed at the latest monthly meeting this week involving PECG leaders and Caltrans management. Other topics included NEPA delegation legislation (to have Caltrans continue to conduct environmental reviews on behalf of the federal government); salary inequity adjustments for Senior Telecommunications Engineers and Survey Party Chiefs; Caltrans’ role in participating in a working group involving scientists and state engineers to address climate change considerations for infrastructure; a correction to a Caltrans policy on the use of personal leave and vacation; and Caltrans support for employees assisting in preparing the state examination for Landscape Architects.

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The Brown Administration has prepared draft legislation which would amend several of the current civil service statutes. While the stated goals of the legislation are worthwhile, PECG is concerned about many of the provisions. These include requiring probationary periods of up to two years; requiring employees in a deep class to be subjected to a new probationary period when changing ranges; eliminating the rule of three ranks; and ending the current preference for using promotional lists rather than open lists (outside hiring) for filling vacancies. PECG will be meeting with CalHR and its parent Agency to address these concerns.

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The PECG pocket calendar lists March 26 and April 16 as Easter. Actually, there is only one Easter this year, and it is on April 16.