California could cut 10,000 unfilled state positions in new budget proposed by Newsom

Gavin Newsom proposed cutting roughly 10,000 unfilled state positions in a revised budget plan he unveiled Friday.

The cuts are set to start in the 2025-26 fiscal year and continue after that, the administration said. It projected the move would save the state roughly $762.5 million.

“Those positions are being determined in real time at every agency and department,” he said during a presentation. “We don’t have the list of every single vacant position for you today.”

The administration’s budget summary included few additional details. Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said the agency in the fall will work with departments to determine which open positions to slash, if the plan is approved by the Legislature.

The cuts the governor announced Friday are in response to a large state budget shortfall. They include a proposed reduction of roughly 7.95% across “nearly all department budgets,” according to the administration. It said that would save another $2.2 billion and would begin in the upcoming fiscal year.

But the governor said his state staffing plan does not include furloughs, layoffs or wage cuts.

“We want to do what all of you are doing in your personal lives. All the businesses out there are doing in their professional lives as well,” the governor said. “And we think we can do that and still achieve outstanding outcomes.”

Newsom then referred to an announcement from Thursday that state agencies plan to use generative artificial intelligence to help with highway congestion, language access and health care inspections. That type of technology uses algorithms to create text, images and video.

AI, he said, was “not a job killer.”

The administration also said it would save $80.6 million by not using about prison 4,600 beds across 13 prisons. It is unclear if that would lead to staffing cuts. Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents prison guards, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Newsom’s budget proposal will be reviewed and voted on by the Legislature, which is required to pass a budget by June 15.

The administration projected a shortfall of $27.6 billion for the 2024-2025 fiscal year and a $28.4 billion gap for the following one.