Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Running On Hot Air—Brown’s California Budget

"You can't run a prison ... on hot air," Gov. Brown told a group of prison guards and crime victims yesterday.  "You've got to run it with real money.” However, like his most recent predecessors from both parties, Brown has been running the entire state on hot air, cutting billions from education and social services, while preserving tax breaks for the rich and subsidies for politically expedient causes, all the while telling us that we all have to tighten our belts to survive this “natural” economic disaster. The public may be scared of teachers and failing schools, but they are even more scared of violent criminals.

The above remarks come during the same week that Brown negotiated a new contract with prison guards, Aaron Glantz reported in his Bay Citizen piece “On Prisons, Brown Ditches Frugality Message.” According to Glantz, the Legislative Analyst's Office said the contract "would result in significantly lower savings" than had been budgeted. The deal would force prison guards to take a monthly unpaid furlough day (a de facto 5 percent pay cut) and pay more toward their retirement. The state will pay more for their health, dental and vision, while the most senior guards will get a pay increase in July 2013.

The LAO says the state will save $181.3 million less than anticipated, forcing lawmakers to either reject Brown’s agreements with the prison guards or to implement layoffs. In other words, Brown has offered more hot air, this time to the powerful prison guards union, an organization that has greedily lobbied for bloated budgets that divert money from education toward locking up more people than most countries do.

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