More Smoke and Mirrors
Six years after riding into office on a wave of Hollywood buzz and reformist pap, Arnold Schwarzenegger tells the Sacramento Bee editorial board with a straight face that the two-year $15-18 billion budget deficit over the remainder of his term isn't a revenue problem, but rather a spending problem, as if macroeconomics doesn't play a role in all of this.
And yet no one on the Bee editorial board challenged him on that whopper.
I understand and agree that our state prison system is overpriced, and that the GOP would now want to convert much of it from CCPOA to Blackwater or whatever they're called these days, getting campaign contributions in the process, as if the federal courts would sit still for that. But Arnold told the Bee that spending on state employees was a large cost driver in the budget deficit, and dismissed entirely the role that depressed general fund revenues have played in these challenges.
•Governor, you say that state employees cost one-third more than private employees. Please show us the study that supports that claim.
•Governor, if state employees are the problem, laying off every one of them wouldn't bridge that gap. So please tell us how a focus on bashing state employees as the cost driver leads to a solution that gets to the $15-18 billion in immediate cuts the GOP wants with no new revenues.
•Governor, if revenues are not the problem, even though many economists would disagree with that after looking at sales tax and general fund figures, then when will your party show us how the GOP would immediately restructure the state government to obtain the $15-18 billion in cuts? When will the GOP show us their grand plan and list of cuts, and be accountable for those suggestions?
•Lastly, Governor, nothing you have proposed bridges the gap while you are in office. In fact, your last several budgets were intellectually bankrupt upon arrival and were made up of smoke and mirrors. You haven't proposed one serious way to bridge this gap.
The GOP and Schwarzenegger are suggesting a dramatic restructuring and downsizing of state government, that would necessitate not just the wholesale elimination of state employees and their replacement by private contractors (whose work would still have to be managed by state employees), but more importantly the wholesale elimination of state programs. Yet the GOP is never forced to come clean on this and show the voters their view of a new California, one that would presumably be much better for their supporters.
It also goes without saying that when the economy and general fund improve in the out years, this same GOP would take the budget surpluses and return them to the voters rather than re-fund the savaged programs and K-12 education. But again, the media never pins the GOP down on this.