It's a tough time to be a state worker

Union rally, originally uploaded by beancounter.

Pity the state workers. Sacramento's biggest employer is going through a bit of a rough patch.

You see, the State of California has not yet passed a budget for the year - and they're supposed to start working on the next one on January 1. (Ha!) It's been California's own special political opera since the summer. The outline:
  • The budget hole's been a problem for a while, but it went from being a hurdle to a massive, immovable political Sphinx as the recession's gotten worse. By most measurements, it now can't be closed even if every spending cut and tax increase suggested were used.
  • Legislative Democrats have the majority in both chambers. The unions, particularly those representing various public employees, have a lot of cachet with them. This is not shocking, but it means they can't cut the budget without feeling the wrath of the unions.
  • Legislative Republicans are anti-tax mavens who have circled the wagons and refused to countenance any tax increase whatsoever, no matter how small, no matter the consequences. (These are not Nevada Republicans.)
  • Governor Schwarzenegger was not elected out of the California GOP establishment. He's a moderate who's become more moderate during his tenure. He's been burned by the unions before and there is little love lost between him and his Republican colleagues. His political popularity, however, is based on his image of a get-stuff-done reformer.
Were staring down Christmas and still no budget. The last move was made by Senate President Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento) who tried an end-run around the Republicans by raising "fees" rather than "taxes." Schwarzenegger knocked it down though and he's started calling for furloughs and layoffs of state workers.

As usual, the comment section is where the real magic happens.
statewrkr95630 wrote on 12/19/2008 02:04:09 PM:

a recent study said the state could layoff HALF of its state workers and not be impacted. i knew things were bloated, but that's wild !!!

Care to share your source, "statewrkr"? Probably not. Unironically, this story comes just as Sacramento's unemployment situation is getting worse.

State workers are the political football of the year. (The illegal immigrants of 2009?) They get manhandled on the comment boards and even by the editorial boards. This post on the Fresno Bee's editorial blog by Lisa Maria Boyles, though, takes the cake.
After reading the latest on the California Legislature's budget maneuverings -- Democrats pass a budget that Republicans say is illegal, governor vows not to sign it, and that's it, we're going home for Christmas -- I'm ready to disband the entire bunch, recall them, vote them out, whatever it takes to get some new people in there who actually give a damn about solving our state's problems.

*deep breath* There was this thing a few weeks ago, early November I believe, where the people were polled - everyone over the age of 18 has the right to participate - about their representation in the California Legislature. NOT ONE SINGLE INCUMBENT LOST. So, if they're doing such a lousy job, Ms. Boyles, why did the voters see fit to return them all to Sacramento?

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