Friday, July 02, 2010

The News from State Woe-Be-Here

California is such a wreck right now, though this is no secret. Once again, we have no budget and are set for some really tough wrangling in the next few months. In order to gain leverage, the Governator has decided to use state workers (once again) as leverage. His brilliant idea? Back the legislature into a corner by reducing state workers' salary to the federal minimum wage until a budget is passed. What's more, the threat of this allowed the state to strong arm 37,000 state workers into a new contract recently, by providing an exemption to the looming cuts.

If using working people as political pawns isn't bad enough, remember that California's budgeting process is a game set up to be fraught with delays and failures. Any tax increases must be approved by 2/3 of the legislature, and even a strong Democratic majority can't muster that up. Without revenue increases, this is going to be a long fight.

Allies of the governor are quick to point out that the wages will be restored and back-pay awarded once a budget passes, but that just doesn't fly with me. If you are a working person, trying to provide for your family, not having your entire wage on time is really, really expensive. How many of these people will have to live on credit cards or take out payday loans at exorbitant rates, just to get by while Sacramento plays its game? This will cost most state worker families a lot of money and stress. Republicans just don't understand that, apparently-- it is astounding how out-of-touch these people are.

State Controlled John Chiang has said that he will not follow the governor's orders, like the last time this happened. Chiang's office was sued by Schwarzenegger; the governor won, but the case is on appeal.

Oh, and Arnold's other great idea? Make California the only state without a welfare-to-work program. Race to the bottom-- here we come, Arkansas!