LAO 2005-06 Budget Analysis: General Government

Analysis of the 2005-06 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2005

State Personnel Board (1880)

The State Personnel Board (SPB) has the authority under the State Constitution and various statutes to adopt civil service rules and regulations. An executive officer appointed by the board is responsible for administering the merit aspects of the state civil service system. (The Department of Personnel Administration administers the nonmerit aspects of the state's personnel systems.) These duties include, but are not limited to, adopting classifications within the State Civil Service System, conducting hearings and appeals on matters of discipline for civil service employees, and developing and administering the merit-based civil service hiring and promotional process.

The board and its staff are also responsible for establishing and administering, on a reimbursement basis, merit systems for certain city, county, and civil defense employees, to ensure compliance with federal requirements. In addition, SPB is responsible for coordinating equal employment opportunity efforts within state and local government agencies, in accordance with state policy and federal law.

The budget proposes $19 million for SPB support in 2005-06, which is $88,000, or 0.5 percent, more than estimated current-year expenditures. The proposed expenditures consist of $3.9 million from the General Fund and $15 million in reimbursements from state departments and other government entities.

POBOR Mandate

We recommend the Legislature request the Commission on State Mandates to reconsider its decision regarding the Peace Officer Procedural Bill of Rights mandate in light of a recent California Supreme Court decision.


Seeking to ensure stable employer-employee relations and effective law enforcement services, the Legislature enacted the Peace Officer Procedural Bill of Rights (POBOR), Chapter 465, Statutes of 1976 (AB 301, Keysor). This measure provides a series of rights and procedural protections to peace officers who are subject to interrogation or discipline by their employer.

In 1995, the City of Sacramento filed a claim with the Commission on State Mandates, alleging that POBOR (including nine subsequent legislative measures that clarified or expanded POBOR) constituted a reimbursable state-mandated program within the meaning of Article XIII B, Section 6 of the California Constitution. In 1999, the commission adopted its "Statement of Decision," finding to be a mandate those procedural requirements of POBOR that exceed the rights provided all public employees under the Due Process Clause of the United States and California Constitutions. For example, the commission found to be a mandate the POBOR requirement that peace officers are entitled to administrative hearings if an employer decides to transfer a peace officer as punishment.

In its 2005-06 proposed budget, the administration defers funding for the annual costs of POBOR (about $30 million), noting that Proposition 1A (approved by the voters in November 2004) exempts mandates pertaining to labor relations from its annual funding requirement. The administration also proposes to fund the backlog of unpaid local government POBOR claims (totaling about $250 million) over a period of 15 years.

Recent Court Decision Casts Doubt On Commission's Mandate Determination

In a 2004 ruling, the California Supreme Court substantially changed prior legal thought regarding state laws that impose procedural requirements on local agencies. In San Diego Unified School District versus Commission on State Mandates, the Court found that state procedural requirements do not constitute a reimbursable mandate if local agencies have a choicewhether to implement the program (or take the action) triggering the state requirements. Specifically, the Court considered school district costs to comply with state procedural requirements when electing to expel a pupil. The Court found that " . . . no hearing costs incurred in carrying out those expulsions that are discretionary under Education Code section 48915—including costs related to hearing procedures claimed to exceed the requirements of federal law—are reimbursable."

The California Supreme Court's ruling in the San Diego Unified case suggests that the commission's approach in reaching its decision regard ing POBOR is no longer valid. Specifically, in reaching its POBOR decision, the commission determined that certain state procedural requirements exceeded the requirements of federal law and the State Constitution. The commission did not consider whether any state laws require local agencies to take the actions triggering the POBOR requirements.

Given the legal questions posed by the San Diego Unified case, we recommend the Legislature request the commission to reconsider its POBOR decision. (It is important to note that any change to the commission's POBOR mandate ruling would not affect peace officer procedural rights in any way.) In addition, given the large number of POBOR mandate claims awaiting payment at the State Controller's Office, we recommend the Legislature specify the time period for which any modified mandate determination would apply. In general, the Legislature has wide authority to apply a revised mandate determination retroactively or prospectively. Given that the state did not challenge the commission's Statement of Decision for this mandate at the time of its adoption, however, local agencies have been operating under the assumption that the state would provide reimbursement for POBOR costs as defined by the commission. Accordingly, we believe a prospective application of any revised POBOR mandate determination would be appropriate.

The following budget language would (1) give the commission the authority and responsibility to complete such a review and (2) maintain the state's responsibility for reimbursing local agencies' costs until any modifications to the mandate determination were adopted:

In 2005-06, the Commission on State Mandates shall review its Statement of Decision regarding the Peace Officer Procedural Bill of Rights (POBOR) test claim and make any modifications necessary to this decision to clarify whether the subject legislation imposed a mandate consistent with the California Supreme Court 2004 decision in San Diego Unified School District versus Commission on State Mandates and other applicable court decisions. If the commission revises its Statement of Decision regarding the POBOR mandate, the revised decision shall apply to local government POBOR activities occurring after the date the revised decision is adopted.

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