Schwarzenegger cuts salaries for government workers

posted at 8:26 am on July 24, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Governator has plans to find extra cash during a budget standoff with the California legislature — out of the wallets of the state’s employees.  Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign an executive order reducing their salaries to the federal minimum wage, furlough non-regular employees, and impose a hard hiring freeze on all agencies except those in the public-safety realm.  The move attempts to force the legislature to act on its pending budget, which has a deficit larger than the entire budgets of most states:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sign an executive order next week that will temporarily reduce pay for more than 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour to preserve cash in the midst of a month-long budget standoff, according to a draft copy of the order obtained by The Bee.

But a spokeswoman for Democratic state Controller John Chiang, who pays the state’s bills, said he would ignore the governor’s order, likely forcing a court battle.

“He will pay state workers the salaries that they have earned, and that’s full salary,” said Deputy Controller Hallye Jordan.

Californians can set their clocks to the budget process in Sacramento, but not in a good way. The state legislature has not produced budgets on time in decades. At one time, it got bad enough that Republicans attempted to withhold the salaries of legislators when budgets failed to pass by the fiscal-year deadline of July 1.

At least legislators would have earned such a penalty.  Schwarzenegger’s plan would punish workers who have no control over the budget process rather than the politicians who sleepwalk their way through the budget process, year after year.  It probably won’t hold up in court, anyway, as workers will undoubtedly file a blizzard of lawsuits that will tie up the courts and increase the state’s costs even more.  Prior court decisions have already provided the basis to pay salaries during budget standoffs, so it isn’t as if Scwarzenegger has a requirement to cut the salaries of state workers or stop paying them altogether.  And no matter what one thinks of the bloated bureaucracies in California, abruptly cutting wages to workers could cause them to lose houses in an already tough market, along with other obvious hardships.

What kind of budget does the Governator want moved, anyway?  The budget under consideration is a disaster.  It spends $144 billion, $101 billion of it from the general fund, and it has a $15.2 billion deficit.  To put this in perspective, the entire annual budget for Minnesota was $15.9 billion in 2007. California has six times as many residents as Minnesota, and its budget is roughly proportional to that, but Minnesota managed to stay in the black — while California continues to spend money it doesn’t have.

Schwarzenegger at one time promised to end runaway deficits and instill discipline into the budgeting process.  He gave that up in order to curry favor with the cognoscenti in the Golden State, and now he wants to discipline the workers rather than the legislators.  Will Californians ever learn, or will it take a complete economic collapse in their state to awaken them from their nanny-state dreams?


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He’s got to find some way to cover all those illegal aliens he wants to take care of.

ctmom on July 24, 2008 at 8:30 AM

I read about the nearly 16 billion deficit and recently passed on some CA tax free bonds. (Curiously, their bond rating hasn’t suffered.)

California leads the nation in so many things. Maybe it will be the first state to declare bankruptcy. Then again, Ahnold will be gone soon, and Gavin Newsom can ride in to the rescue :)

JiangxiDad on July 24, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Schwarzenegger’s plan would punish workers who have no control over the budget process rather than the politicians who sleepwalk their way through the budget process, year after year

The politicians work for those workers, or at least for the unions that those workers belong to. You need to get over this fixation on the politicians. They are the symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself, nine times out of ten. Same thing with pork.

flenser on July 24, 2008 at 8:39 AM

Yikes.. That’s a risky gambit… Ahnuld might get bit like Newt did back in the day.

Diogenes of Sinope on July 24, 2008 at 8:39 AM

> You need to get over this fixation on the politicians.

WTF?

Diogenes of Sinope on July 24, 2008 at 8:41 AM

What part don’t you understand?

flenser on July 24, 2008 at 8:45 AM

At least Arnold is holding their feet to the fire to reduce the spending in the budget! But I agree with Ed that it is unfair to use the salaries of state employees as a wedge in budget negotiations.

Outlander on July 24, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Maybe Ahhhnold could channel Reagan and fire every last one of them.

Dave Rywall on July 24, 2008 at 8:54 AM

Ugh.

It’s the state employees whose bidding the legislature is doing. Arnie is striking at his opponents head rather than his hand.

California is run by and for the public sector unions. The politicians are merely the mouthpieces.

flenser on July 24, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Maybe Ahhhnold could channel Reagan and fire every last one of them.

If only.

I assume that you spend your days here on the Canadian taxpayers dime, Dave?

flenser on July 24, 2008 at 8:57 AM

The Governator rusted out some time ago. Companies are starting to bail out of California and others are canceling expansions or plans to open facilities in the state.

They never did anything about their energy problems, just shuffled it off to other states. (The surrounding states built power plants, the nimby/bananas refused to allow it in CA)

Care to hazard a guess on what will happen if those states decide they need that power for their own residents?

Stick the fork in, CA is done.

evilned on July 24, 2008 at 8:57 AM

If you want a glimpse into what America will look like in twenty years, take a look at California today. Banana republicdom, here we come.

flenser on July 24, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Things are really working out great for all you folks in California! Excuse the rest of us if we don’t follow your lead in the rest of the country! We watch in confused amusement at your Hollywood morons and the travesty you call San Fransisco but you seem to enjoy your state. We hear the weather is nice out there but have no plans to visit soon so we wish you well. When the next “big one” hits we aren’t sure we will have either the money or the inclination to assist parts of your state that have told the rest of us and our military to F-ourselves…so good luck!

sabbott on July 24, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Welfare benefits to illegal aliens and for people who never looked for a job a day in their life are in the tens of millions of dollars a month and he cuts the salaries of people with legit jobs?

GogglesPisano on July 24, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Ed, legislators and their staffs and most people that work in the capital building are not receiving a paycheck.

Budget stalemate halts legislative staff pay

Many workers routinely ask for ‘crunch loans’ to tide them over
By Jessica Schley
Correspondent
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SACRAMENTO — While it may be hard to find sympathy for California politicians who are going without pay until a budget is adopted, they are not the only ones under the Capitol dome without a paycheck.

Security guards, committee secretaries, vendors and legislative aides — including those in district offices — all fall under the same guidelines for wages as lawmakers. None can be paid until an overdue budget is approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. June 15 was their last payday

You are onto something here Ed.

Will Californians ever learn, or will it take a complete economic collapse in their state to awaken them from their nanny-state dreams?

I call it the nuclear option. Republicans get onto every media outlet available and let it be known to Democrat voters that they are going to pass every economy killing bill the legislature plans on passing, when it all comes tumbling down we will be back and hopefully you will be ready to listen.

It is my belief that Republicans nationwide are simply keeping their Democrat heavy states limping along. Michigan being a prime example. There are just enough Republicans to keep the state from collapsing utterly but not enough to allow the state to prosper.

Republicans have to have a positive message of hope, of being a city on a hill with more freedom and more opportunity. And severely contrast themselves to Democrats. When we lost Reagan we lost the ability to communicate tha message. In all the healthcare debates why weren’t Republicans flogging tort reform as a cost savings measure? Most Americans have no idea what that is yet it has been a huge success in Texas. In all the debates the idea of making healthcare more affordable by making it cheaper in addition to needed adjustments in the level of benefits available was never discussed.

I agree with you the nanny state dreams need to be shattered. And California is the place to do it. I almost hope tax hikes come down the pike. The last time this happened it kicked off a reccesion. The time before that it kicked off a reccesion. I say let it come. The VERY transient middle class will no longer move here, the ones that are here will leave, the diminishing of the tax base will force the Democrats to look to their only source, rich liberals. Not very rich mind you just rich enough to live San Francisco, or West Los Angeles. With no one left to tax they will also turn to stealth taxes as well, hiking up phone taxes, garbage taxes, fire taxes and make the state generally less liveable. Nevada and Arizona are going to peel off the businesses and middle class families quite rapidly. And a bill likley to pass that will force electric companies to buy 20% of their energy from “renewable” sources will cause heating and cooling prices to go up, awesome. The people least able to afford higher taxes will be the people forced to bear the brunt of the economic melt down. Then, just maybe they will be willing to list. (Lets hope Republicans are up to communicating the message)

Theworldisnotenough on July 24, 2008 at 9:12 AM

When the next “big one” hits we aren’t sure we will have either the money or the inclination to assist parts of your state that have told the rest of us and our military to F-ourselves…so good luck!

Gee, I guess I better move to a red state if I wanted to be treated like a US citizen.

Bad Penny on July 24, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Well, when San Francisco legalizes prostitution California will have tons of extra tax money. :)

becki51758 on July 24, 2008 at 9:37 AM

At one time, Arnold had proper pumpatoon, but as CA governor, he has turned into a flabby little girly man.

thirteen28 on July 24, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Given the questions right now about socializing debt when it comes to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least in the near future to see a large-population state like California or New York that’s facing bankruptcy due to out-of-control spending try to get the federal government to bail it out, under the same justification that because of their population they’re “too big to fail” and a bankruptcy would have a calamitous effect on the nation’s finances (of course, unlike New York State’s bailout of New York City in 1976, whatever state finally tries this will demand that under states rights, there be no quid pro quo of financial controls in return for the bailout request).

jon1979 on July 24, 2008 at 9:43 AM

I read about the nearly 16 billion deficit and recently passed on some CA tax free bonds.

We spend around 16 billion a year on services for illegal aliens alone. Yet, they still keep doing everything to attract more and expand service. This state will just not stop spending.

Blake on July 24, 2008 at 9:52 AM

I like the idea. That means it won’t ever get implemented.

Warner Todd Huston on July 24, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Wow just wait until the services stop since everyone will be job hunting and mass abandoning the state for better pay elsewhere.

Static on July 24, 2008 at 9:54 AM

A green, PC utopia is expensive to build and maintain. Somebody has to pay the bills. Wring it out of the drones.

whitetop on July 24, 2008 at 9:56 AM

Tips for da Gubinator:

1. End all entitlements and subsidies for any and all programs that benefit illegal aliens. This includes education, health care, welfare, etc. End in-state tuition rates for illegals at college campuses across the state.

That’s pretty much it.

CUT SPENDING ON SOCIAL PROGRAMS, AHNULD!!!!! There’s a reason your state is relocating to Arizona.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 24, 2008 at 9:58 AM

Perata and Nunez have been termed out at the end of this year, but are still screaming to raise taxes to cover the defecit. They never mention that the states income has INCREASED 30% since Arnie took office. Well the population hasn’t increased 30%, costs haven’t increased 30%, but the Democratic legislature managed to SPEND every last dime of that increase. Now times are lean, but the thought of cutting anything is not an option for them.

GarandFan on July 24, 2008 at 10:21 AM

jon1979 on July 24, 2008 at 9:43 AM

There you go thinking clearly again. Jeesh. Do you want to spoil the party?

JiangxiDad on July 24, 2008 at 10:27 AM

The Governator has HUGE problems. My tribe, which expelled 25% of it’s members has just announced LAYOFFS of over 400 people. Citing the economy, they won’t be able to keep about 9% of the “team”. So much for gambling being the big savior of our economy.
Arnold PROMISED US that this would help and now, gambling is going by the wayside and they have hoodwinked us.

We have terrible government here in CA. They promised us BILLIONS from gaming and pretty soon, it will be almost nothing.

originalpechanga on July 24, 2008 at 10:30 AM

STAY HOME CALIFORNIA STATE EMPLOYEES. IF THEY DON”T PAY YOU, DO NOT WORK!

originalpechanga on July 24, 2008 at 10:31 AM

What most people don’t understand about California is that over half of its annual budget consists of “entitlement” spending that is mandated by initiatives passed years ago by the voters. Neither the Governor nor the legislature can cut this funding, even in a fiscal crisis. Most of it is for education. Medicaid spending is also killing the state.

The state’s budget has been a mess for nearly 20 years now, under Governors of both parties.

rockmom on July 24, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Don’t forget the six-billion dollar ESCR boondoggle.

corona on July 24, 2008 at 10:37 AM

No pay, no work. Suck on that, Arnie.

mojo on July 24, 2008 at 10:52 AM

And under Arnold the state has spen 40% more than under Davis, whom we voted out because of his overspending!
Spending Increases in CA

With Republicans spending us into the ground like this, it’s no wonder they’re losing.

PattyJ on July 24, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Predictable……….California State Employees Union is only thinking of itself.

In the middle of a budget crisis, Wow.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 24, 2008 at 11:13 AM

There IS, in fact, a way to fix CA’s government bloat. It’s simple. We’ll be seeing a wave of retirements soon from the boomer generation. Let those people retire, don’t backfill, and reorganize what you have left into a more effective unit.

Then, since you have much fewer employees, give pay bumps to those who deserve it. Pay much fewer people better and you’ll get better people. This will ultimately save costs and increase productivity.

This is what California Performance Review proposed … and of course, no one listened.

TheUnrepentantGeek on July 24, 2008 at 11:52 AM

“Schwarzenegger at one time promised to end runaway deficits and instill discipline into the budgeting process. He gave that up in order to curry favor with the cognoscenti in the Golden State”

What do you expect from the RINO Governator who thinks DemoThink? Too much Kennedy and Hollywood influence has him brainwashed.

DavePa on July 24, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Things are really working out great for all you folks in California! Excuse the rest of us if we don’t follow your lead in the rest of the country!

sabbott on July 24, 2008 at 9:08 AM

California does lead the country in foreclosures and housing price decline.

Coincidence?????

NOT!

landlines on July 24, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Predator (1987)

Dutch: If it bleeds, we can kill it.
Dutch: Bleed, bastard.
Dutch: What the hell ARE you?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093773/quotes

Chakra Hammer on July 24, 2008 at 4:13 PM

Well, maybe I’m wrong but I thought the state minimum wage in CA was 8 bucks an hour. How does the state get by paying less than what the law it passes says you have to pay?

boomer on July 24, 2008 at 8:21 PM