Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an ardent backer of John McCain's presidential bid, showed us his real vision of a "post-partisan" future, only it looks very much like the Bush/Rove past. California, like the nation, faces enormous fiscal challenges. But California is one of only three states that require a two-thirds majority to pass a budget. This lunacy gives the Republican minority, led by the governor, veto power over the budget. It's like having the equivalent of Mitch McConnell, David Dreier and John Boehner's Gucci-clad feet on the throat of the seventh largest economy in the world.
Governor Schwarzenegger, true to form, figured out a great Republican solution. He announced that he would sign an executive order to reduce the pay of some 200,000 state workers to the Federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour. That's $13,000 or so a year or about $1,083 a month. That's below even this government's poverty line for a family of two. Try living in Los Angeles on $1,000 a month. Just try.
Or try it in Sacramento. The govenror lives at the (non-union) Hyatt, where his accommodation for the past five or so years has cost about $400,000. That's at the negotiated "governor's special" of $239 per night. And even then, it's all paid for through a shadowy front organization that allows donors anonumously to pay for the governor's 500 thread count sheets and pillow cases without our knowing who they are or what they get for cradling the acting governor's head. We did a little math. At the governor's proposed rate of $6.55 per hour for state workers, it'd take just about a full work week to pya for one night at the Hyatt. That's before taxes and fees are deducted. Sounds good to me!
Yes, the governor says that he'll provide back pay to the workers once the budget is passed, but how much will that mean to people who barely make due on their salaries as is? In a time of record foreclosures, bank failures and gas prices, how precisely does Governor Schwarzenegger think these folks, on whose lives many in this state depend, will make it?
In the meantime, John McCain is due in San Francisco today (Monday) to enjoy a $100,000 per person fundraiser for his peoples' campaign. I'm betting a lot of state workers will be at that one.
The Courage Campaign launched a petition today, now signed by over 12,000 people including our briliant Speaker Karen Bass and President Pro Tem-Elect Darrell Steinberg demanding that the governor stop trying to wring cash flow out of workers who just don't have the cash to flow. This follows our two videos that brand the Republican Party as the Yacht Party for its consistent support of a loophole in the tax law that allows yacht and private jet owners to avoid paying sales taxes. It's only about $26 million a year -probably about Arnold's annual income-- but it makes a clear point. Schwarzenegger and McCain and Dreier and the whole crew would rather subsidize the rich than lead.
Post-partisan Arnold is total recall of a highly partisan Bush/McCain administration. The workers and people of California cannot afford four more years of Bush any more than can the nation. McCain-Schwarzenegger: More subsidies for the rich. No leadership. No clue.
UPDATE: I'll be in Sacramento today, July 28 2:00PM to present over 25,000 signed petitions to the governor. Assemblymember Dave Jones, who has led on this issue, will join us. We'll walk the petitions over to the Hyatt and ask the concierge to take them up to the governor's suite. Maybe he'll do a little light reading before bed. If he does, he'll see comments like this one, from Michele in Santa Barbara, who signed the Stop Arnold petition and said, "I have worked 38 years for the State and served the people with compassion and integrity. I will lose my home without my pay... Please do not use the workers to balance the budget!"