Jim Miller, State Capitol reporter for the Press Enterprise, has an even-handed write-up
on the condition of public employees in California. Much has been made of the three furlough days Governor Schwarzenegger has imposed on state workers, resulting in a 14% pay cut. However, these folks still have a job. Miller points out the following:
"The number of government employees in California fell from 2.52 million in July 2008 to 2.5 million in July 2009, a 0.9 percent drop, according to the California Economic Development Department.
By comparison, all non-agricultural salary employment fell 5.1 percent during that time. The state's unemployment rate was 11.9 percent, 13.9 percent in San Bernardino County and 14.7 percent in Riverside County.
Public employee unions have fought the furloughs, but have offered no other budgetary solution aside from raising taxes. Perhaps they should embrace reality and accede to necessary layoffs, such as the private sector has endured. (We all know the state could live without a few bureaucratic functions.) Compared to layoffs, furloughs simply spread the pain to all employees. Moreover, they retain the costs for the state. There is still overhead to pay in the luxurious public employee benefits and the pay cut is temporary, meaning better budget times will result in an immediate 14% increase in payroll expenses. For the unions, it means all members retain their jobs; hence, these employees stay in the union (providing greater strength in numbers) and the unions continue to collect union dues, filling their coffers.
People who advocate more spending, bigger government jobs, and higher taxes can’t see the forest for the trees. Cuts are painful. But the quicker government shrinks, the quicker the private sector will respond, which will create jobs for everyone – current public employees included.