SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered state agencies to recover millions of dollars in salary and travel advances that were given to state workers but never repaid.

The Democratic governor issued an executive order directing agencies to investigate a backlog of uncollected debt.

“It’s shocking that the state has apparently failed to collect millions of dollars in salary and travel advances owed by state employees,” Brown said in a statement. “This situation reinforces the worst stereotype of ineffective and inefficient government.”

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

California gives salary and travel advances to state employees under special circumstances, such as when an employee is leaving state service and needs a final check, when an employee makes a hardship request or when an employee travels.

Audits by the state controller’s office have found the state has not done a good job of getting the money back or making sure it was spent properly. A 2009 audit found that $13.3 million in advances had not been collected by 11 agencies.

Auditors warned that the longer the debt goes uncollected, the more likely it will not be recovered. They found that many departments have been failing to follow state rules, which direct the state to deduct the money from the worker’s paycheck.

“The state’s poor debt collection and accounting practices are fleecing public coffers at a time when vital public programs are being decimated by unprecedented budget cuts,” Controller John Chiang said in a statement.

Brown ordered state agencies to do a better job of notifying state employees who received a travel advance but fail to submit a travel expense claim. He ordered the state to make deductions from an employee’s next paycheck if those claims are not submitted within 30 days.

The governor has said he wants to reduce waste and make government more efficient as the state faces a remaining $15.4 billion budget gap for the fiscal year that begins in July. California’s deficit, which once stood at nearly $27 billion, was reduced after the Legislature approved billions in cuts and some fund transfers.

But filling the remaining hole has proved politically difficult.

To bridge most of the remaining deficit, Brown proposed calling a statewide election to ask voters to extend the state’s sales, income and vehicle taxes for five years. Republican lawmakers, who oppose tax increases, have stood in his way.

Brown needs a minimum of four GOP votes — two in each house — to meet a two-thirds requirement for the Legislature to put the tax extension question before voters.

Both sides tried to rally support for their positions this week. With the Legislature on spring recess, some Republicans toured biomedical facilities to learn the challenges of being innovative in a heavily regulated state like California. Democrats, including Assembly Speaker John Perez, hosted a town hall to discuss the impact of further service cuts if taxes aren’t approved.

Brown, who has also been touring the state to get out his message, was scheduled to hold a budget forum in Santa Clarita on Thursday. Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who represents that district, is expected to attend.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (9)
  1. Ben says:

    Good for Gov Brown! Makes me proud to know that he is someone with honesty and integrity.

    1. Bruce_in_San_Jose says:

      Say what? Clearly you weren’t around when he held the governors office last time! Oh, wait, you had to be around when he was mayor of Oakland? Hmm, well, at least when he illegally held the office of State Attorney General? Honesty and integrity! ROTFLOL! Only on a scale where Bill Clinton is the baseline!

  2. Kodiax says:

    gee if i dont pay back loans..cough… advances, I get wages attached or worse.
    i do hope interest is compounded on this overdue money at the same rate we all get penalized with.

  3. david larkin says:

    If he was really serious brown would list the names of those who failed to pay

  4. Morena says:

    This is what gives government workers a bad name. Good for him …and us. Bravo Brown, encore.

  5. lexo408 says:

    Shut up brown and give us state employees a raise they expect us to do a lot of work with little pay and no benefits.I shouldn’t have to pay out of my paycheck to pay for travel expenses.

    1. Big G says:

      Your exactly the image issue of state workers, went into civil service work & expect taxpayers to fund your lazy & bad attitude!! Most likely though, you have never had a job & you have had your hand out all your life.

  6. N Bennett says:

    State employees are underworked, inefficient and overpaid, with more benefits than most workers receive. I don’t get “advances” either, and I don’t know why they should. Bravo, Jerry. Its time someone started to look behind a lot of the reasons California is in such poor shape. Its not because the state has no money, its because it has been so badly mismanaged for so long. I

  7. jc says:

    N Bennet you have hit the damm nail square on the head. That is exactly what this state needs is to not continue to over tax us but better spend our taxes and only then will california be in better shape not to mention a better state. Thanks Jeeeeery! and no thanks to these overpaid under performing state employees and politicians.

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