Turns out that California's paymaster, State Controller John Chiang, has said that retooling the state's 1970's-era payroll system to handle the Governor's orders will take a little time. Like, October, 2012.
Chiang cited Friday's ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeals, which said "unfeasibility" would excuse him from complying with Schwarzenegger's minimum wage order. He said a fix to the state's computerized payroll system won't be ready until October 2012.In other words, it may cost more money to fix California's ancient payroll system than cutting state workers' pay would save on a temp basis, considering they would have to pay the workers the lost wages anyway.
Meanwhile, more than 200,000 state workers remain in limbo about the size of their July paychecks while Chiang asks the court for guidance on how to proceed. If wages are indeed cut to $7.25 an hour, employees will be reimbursed once a budget is signed.
John Harrigan, who served as a division chief for the state's payroll services from 1980 to 2006, said upgrading the system would be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. He said it could be done, but not without violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and substantially altering the payroll process.
"It's not something that you can take lightly and do overnight," said Harrigan, who also served as chief deputy controller from 2000 to 2002. "You have all the collective bargaining for civil servants and (state universities) that have to be taken into consideration. ... It's very complicated. It would take considerable effort."
The state's payroll system was designed more than 60 years ago and was last revamped in 1970, Hallye Jordan, state controller's office spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
A report by the nonpartisan legislative analyst's office said an overhaul of the state's computerized payroll system was proposed by the controller's office in 2004. A year later, the Legislature approved $130 million for the effort, called the 21st Century Project.
Work to complete the project has been postponed by the controller's office repeatedly over the past several years, said Lynelle Jolley, spokeswoman for the governor's Department of Personnel Administration.
"They had various setbacks that only they can explain," she said.
Harrigan said he was involved with the 21st Century Project when it was conceived in the late 1990s. He said the state fired the vendor executing the project in 2008 because the company went bankrupt.
California is pretty much deep into failed state status at this point.