Or a sly politico?
As the yearly budget process winds down here in California, our legislature struggles to close a $17.2B shortfall with proposals that range from borrowing against future state lottery earnings (our Governator) to enacting a sweeping tax increase package (the Democrats). Republicans, though, have said “no” to new taxes, and so negotiations have ground to a halt.
But with the budget 30 days overdue and the state running out of money, Governor Schwarzenegger has come up with a plan to force the legislature to finish: Starting next week, he’s going to slash state worker’s pay until the budget is passed. “How does the governor get that authority?” you might ask. Well…it’s a little known CA Supreme Court ruling that allows the governor to basically impoverish state employees by cutting their pay down to the federal minimum wage of $6.55/hour—even below CA’s minimum wage of $8.00/hour. And does this rule cover all workers? NO IT DOES NOT! Only hourly workers are affected. The Governor’s staff, the legislators, along with a wide swath of highly compensated managers and employees don’t get touched. So instead of simply shutting down the government—fair to all—our jack-hole of a governor is going to force a huge number of state employees to labor for pennies until he gets his way.
So the question is: Why would the Governator use the anger of state employees to force the legislature’s hand rather than the anger of California’s citizens? The answer lies in his future political aspirations. Barred from running for president, the highest position he can aspire to now is to become one of California’s senators, and that’s just what he’s planning—to challenge Barbara Boxer in 2010. Schwarzenegger has cynically calculated that he can afford to f*ck 200,000 state workers where f*cking 20M voters might put a crimp in his senatorial campaign.
So perhaps Schwarzenegger is both, a sly politico with the heart of a terminator.