Unions Team With California’s State Controller to Stop Cost-Cutting Measures

The Democratic Controller of the State of California is joining with unions to prevent the ability of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to get a handle on the state budget by refusing to obey the governor’s furlough plan and pay cuts. And state officers, including the Republican Insurance Commissioner, are backing the Controller showing that unions have co-opted all of them.

State governments have spent themselves into oblivion, we all know. Unfunded mandates, programs that cannot be paid for and for which no provisions for funding were ever arranged, have been the modus operandi of governments across the country. Strange, indeed, is the government program that is properly and affordably funded.

But it isn’t just outrageous and unnecessary government programs that have clogged and over spent government treasuries from coast to coast. Unnecessary government employees, overgenerous benefits that far out pace private sector benefits, unduly early retirement ages with higher percentages of highest salary earned as a pension payment, all these things add to government waste and over spending from the most local city office, to county and state offices.

This last situation is due to the influence of public employees unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The SEIU has taken the gov. to court over his plans to cut state employee’s pay by nearly 10% and for his plans to add furlough days to an employee’s schedule. Schwarzenegger claims the cost-cutting plan would save the state $1.3 billion over a 17-month period.

But Controller Chiang is going to court himself to stop the cost-cutting measure. In a legal brief he also admitted that he’d like to join the unions as a litigant with them against his own state. As noted in the Sacramento Bee, “Though Chiang is a defendant in the case, his legal filing said he would prefer to be a plaintiff alongside labor unions.”

Sadly, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Republican who is also a candidate for the upcoming gubernatorial race, has joined Chiang’s union favoring plan and added his voice to that of other state officers in hopes of defeating the cost-savings measure.

This backing of Chiang’s efforts seems consistent with other statements made by Poizner. In a recent debate between two of the GOP candidates for governor, Poizner said that he would ask state officers to “streamline and optimize” their offices but refused to dictate specific cuts he’d implement if elected governor. In contrast, candidate Tom Campbell said he’d seek a 15% “give-back” of state salaries and would continue furloughs.

Campbell also said he’d get tough on state employee unions. In a separate appearance, GOP candidate Meg Whitman said she’d seek a 10% reduction in the state’s workforce. The later, said Poizner, would “hurt a lot of people.” Again Poizner did not reveal any plans that he’d try to put into place to reduce the budget shortfall and realign the government into more cost effective practices.

Of the three GOP contenders for governor, it seems that Poizner favors the unions and his participation in Chaing’s efforts shores up that notion.

The following state officers added letters to Controller Chaing’s effort to stop Schwarzenegger’s cost-cutting measures:

(Download PDF file of Chiang’s letter HERE)

Lt. Governor John Raymond Garamendi (Democrat)
Secretary of State Debra Bowen (Democrat)
Treasurer Bill Lockyer (Democrat)
State Controller John Chiang (Democrat)
Public Instruction Superintendent Jack O’Connell (Democrat)
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (Republican)
Deputy Attorney General James Humes