Good morning and happy Tuesday!
FIRST UP: Don’t forget to join our panel at noon today on diversity in California government. You can find it at sacbee.com and at www.facebook.com/capitolalert. You’ll hear from Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, civil rights attorney Robert Rubin, Luis Alvarado of the Lincoln Project and more.
HOW FURLOUGHS SLOW UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
As desperate Californians sought help with unemployment insurance claims over the summer, hundreds of employees who could fix their problems were missing work under a state-imposed leave program, according to payroll data.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature instituted a furlough-like leave program for all state civil service employees in July to help address a projected $54 billion deficit caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The leave program generally reduces workers’ pay in exchange for two days off per month.
The furloughs hit the Employment Development Department as its workforce, facing a historic number of unemployment claims, was already hobbled by inadequate technology and staffing missteps. The department during the pandemic accumulated a backlog of more than 1.6 million unemployment claims this year that it does not expect to work through until January.
In July, 684 employees who solve complex claims problems — the kind that created the backlog — took a combined 1,078 unpaid days off under the program, according to data provided by the State Controller’s Office. In August, 860 employees used 1,538 leave days, according to the data.
Meanwhile, the department has been shelling out millions of dollars every month in overtime. In July and August, the department paid employment programs representatives $7.9 million for 204,000 hours of overtime, the equivalent of about 25,500 days, according to Controller’s Office data.
Had they not taken days off through the leave program, workers could have processed up to about 62,000 more claims over those two months, according to an analysis by The Sacramento Bee based on a strike team finding that experienced employees can process 24 claims per day.
Ten years ago, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger exempted the Employment Development Department from his furloughs in a similar crisis as the department racked up overtime during the Great Recession.
The department has had to process far more claims this time around, yet its employees face many of the same hurdles, including furloughs.
Read more here from The Bee’s Wes Venteicher.
WOMEN’S WELL-BEING INDEX UPDATED
The California Budget & Policy Center Tuesday has released its updated California Women’s Well-Being Index and its findings are cause for concern.
One in 10 women in California do not have health insurance. That number is even higher (17%) for Latina women, compared to 5.6% of white women.
Nearly half, four in 10, of women in California earn low wages, while that number rises to more than half (52.6%) for Latina women.
When it comes to representation at the state level, in 22 counties there is no female representation (either Assembly or Senate) level, while women make up little more than a quarter (27%) of all county boards of supervisors.
You can see the index, and where your county stands, by clicking here.
CLAYPOOL RETURNS TO REDISTRICTING COMMISSION
The 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission announced that Daniel Claypool will serve as the commission’s executive director.
Claypool is a familiar face; he previously served as executive director of the 2010 Citizens Redistricting Commission. The announcement was made at the commission’s Monday meeting; he marks the commission’s first full-time hire.
“The Commission received a talented pool of candidates eager to serve as the 2020 Commission’s Executive Director,” Commission rotating Chair Isra Ahmad said in a statement. “As a group, we took great care in considering all of the highly qualified applicants in the pool, and we did not take the decision lightly. We are excited to make this first step in building out our team to support our work moving forward.”
The commission noted in a statement that Claypool “brings deep experience” to the job. In addition to his role as executive director in 2010, Claypool also has worked in the California State Auditor’s Office, and also served as project manager for the selection of the 2010 commission.
The commission has at least two more positions that it will fill in the coming weeks, that of legal counsel and communications director.
BALLOT MEASURE AD WATCH
Keep your eyes peeled for new ads in favor of Proposition 16 and Proposition 18.
First up, Prop 16.
The Yes on Prop 16 campaign announced the launch of a new digital ad as part of its media blitz as Election Day is just four weeks away.
The digital ad features Hollywood movers and shakers Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ryan Bathe, and Alfre Woodard encouraging voters to support the ballot measure to restore affirmative action in the Golden State.
“We can’t dismantle systemic racism and sexism overnight. But Prop 16 is a concrete step we can take to begin removing the barriers to equal opportunity for all Californians,” Woodard says in the ad.
“When we say Black Lives Matter, we have to mean it,” Bathe says.
You can watch the ad here.
And while Proposition 18 has flown under the radar compared to some of the other ballot measures, it’s getting some attention in an ad newly launched by the Yes on Prop 18 campaign.
The campaign is showing 30-second, 15-second and 6-second versions of the ad for the ballot measure, which would allow 17-year-olds to vote in state primaries as long as they turn 18 by Election Day.
“Prop 18 ensures that young people have a say in their future and the big issues facing them, and it creates important habits to make them lifelong voters,” the ad says in part.
You can watch the ad for yourself by clicking here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“When is the Governor going to hold a press conference exclusively about what’s going on with EDD? He made the decision to continue the lockdown, he owes Californians an answer as to when they’ll get their unemployment benefits. #holdthedamnpressconference”
– Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, via Twitter.
Best of the Bee:
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday he nominated Martin J. Jenkins as the first openly gay and third Black man to serve as a justice on the California Supreme Court, via Hannah Wiley.
The August Complex, a gigantic lightning-sparked wildfire incident that started nearly two months ago at Mendocino National Forest and has flared in gusty winds since then, reached an incredible 1 million acres in size Monday morning, via Michael McGough.
Latino lawmakers represent 27 seats in the Legislature, making up about a fifth of its 120 officeholders. That’s up from six in 1990, via Kim Bojórquez.