Government Spending

I Can Recall a Familiar Smile

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, a big disappointment as Golden State governor (to me, anyway), has at least enriched the lives of one class of Californians: state employees.

The state of California's payroll is skyrocketing, even as its budget deficit has grown to billions of dollars in recent months.

In Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's first four years, the total bill for state workers' salaries jumped by 37 percent, compared with a 5 percent increase in the preceding four years under then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Chronicle analysis of state payroll records shows.

One month before Schwarzenegger took office in November 2003, just eight state employees earned more than $200,000 a year working in the core state government, which excludes universities and the Legislature. In April of this year, there were nearly a thousand, according to records.

And the number of state employees making six-figure salaries has more than doubled since 2003, to nearly 15,000. Meanwhile, the number of state workers has grown by 26,000 under Schwarzenegger after being cut by Davis, who was recalled from office in the midst of a severe budget crisis.

Big San Francisco Chronicle blowout here. Davis' budget deficit in his recall year was $38 billion. Schwarzenegger's deficit this year is being estimated at $15-20 billion, on an overall budget of around $100 billion, up from Davis' outgoing $77 billion.

Link via Mickey Kaus. reason on Schwarzenegger here.

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  1. Arnold came in with good intentions (presumably) but quickly discovered that he would lose any chance at getting reelected if he didn’t pander to every special interest. In California, there are a lot of them. In short, he pussed out and chose not to fight. I don’t envy him his position (which he chose freely), but he’s the same asshole who wanted to pawn off his state’s health care costs on the rest of the country. Californian got what they wanted, not what they needed.

  2. Let’s see: under Arnold’s administration, the deficit shrank even as the budget increased. Why is that bad?

    Also, from the article’s fifth paragraph: Some of the pay increases in recent years have been out of Schwarzenegger’s control, including previously negotiated pay raises for some employee unions and court-ordered pay hikes for medical workers in the state prison system that are estimated to have cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

    I don’t see how this adds up to being bad for Arnold. In the face of rising salary costs over which he has no control, the deficit dropped by half even as the budget grew by one third. Maybe it was a lucky accident, maybe it was the Terminator’s ruthless computer-logic stewardship, but I don’t see how it adds up being a “disappointment.”

  3. The really important question is: Has Schwarzenegger ever eaten lobster?

    (for contest check the post before this one)

  4. I think he prefers beaver.

  5. Sometime very early in his tenure, I seem to recall the Governator appointed some high-quill Dem advisors to his staff. Anyone who thought he was going to do anything new and different should have known better almost from the start.

  6. I am not a resident of California and have not even been there since Schwarzenegger took office. So, if you are a California resident please answer this question. From an objective perspective and not one colored by partisanship, has Schwarzenegger been any better than Gray Davis? Do you think California would be better off today if the recall election had not taken place and Gray Davis simply filled out his term?

  7. For this I was denied Conan III?

    Gray Davis may have been the worst U.S. governor ever.

  8. What’s not mentioned and in other critiques of the governor is that in the last election he was running against Eugene Debs. And that the state legislature is firmly in the hands of the socialists.

    Things could be a whole lot worse.

  9. … I voted for Gary Coleman.

  10. Off Topic – sorry but there was no appropriate driving/drinking tread to which to post this technological breakthrough.

    http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/3029/urinal-video-game-keeps-would-be-drivers-off-the-road

  11. Don’t blame me, either. I voted for Georgy Russell!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3168177.stm

    Rroowww! Oooga! Oooga! Va va voom!

  12. What am I going to do with my “Governator” t-shirt when he’s gone? There aren’t a lot of actors turned politicians out there you know.

  13. I’m all in favor of putting up thousands of miles of border fence so long as they are trying to fence off California from the rest of the country.

  14. The problem with all politicians is that they do things now with only the thought of how it will affect them come re-election time. Be that as it may and is all over the country from the lowest to highest seats of government I feel like they need to do what they feel is right for the state or country by only having to worry about being elected the one time. As in you win once, you do your best to make things better and you go the hell home. Term limits would remove all of this crap from fubaring everything up for special interest groups desires alone. Pols should not be concerned about re-election because they should never be allowed to run again after the first time, period.

  15. Not that I am in favor of growing the state budget and payroll in absolute dollars, but let’s remember that we have just gone (are still going?) through a great period of inflation (i.e., government printing presses running overtime). The CPI wildly understates the value dilution that we have seen, even since the Governator took power. When all the dust has settled, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the dollar has lost a third to a half of its purchasing power in just the 2000s alone, and that the pre-existing, continuing state employees (not the recent hires) have only been treading water in terms of their paycheck’ value in constant dollars. Under those circumstances, the only thing to bitch about is that private sector employees don’t have the magical COLAs and other perks that keep their salaries and wages effectively stagnant, along with the wages of the state employees. I’d rather have a stable dollar, thank you very much.

    At my last employer, I kept getting nominal “raises,” but noticed that my actual purchasing power begin to fall several years ago, when calibrated against even so rosy an indicator as CPI.

  16. Dee | May 27, 2008, 3:39pm | #

    Term limits would remove all of this crap from fubaring everything up for special interest groups desires alone.

    The the governor and members of the state assembly and senate in California are already subject to term limits.

  17. James Anderson Merritt | May 27, 2008, 4:00pm | #

    Not that I am in favor of growing the state budget and payroll in absolute dollars, but let’s remember that we have just gone (are still going?) through a great period of inflation (i.e., government printing presses running overtime).

    Yup, if you factor in inflation, things look a bit different.

    Look, California’s tax system is structually broken, and has been since Prop. 13 was passed. This means lots of “soaking it to the rich”, putting everything on the credit card, and other accounting gimmicks that solve the problem in the short term but end up costing more in the long term. Unless you want to fire teachers and cops and stop repairing the roads, taxes probably have to go up. And, in the real world, the government has to pay for teachers and cops and roads.

  18. Inflation inflation inflation….

  19. Let’s see: under Arnold’s administration, the deficit shrank even as the budget increased. Why is that bad?

    Increased Budget requires increased income going to the state. Decreased “Budget Deficit” means even more money going to the state. If this were a corporation selling things to people voluntarily I’d say “Good Show!!”

    It is however a (state) Government who’s only source of income are taxes and “user fees” extorted by force of law. That’s why it’s bad.

    In case you didn’t know, California has a 9.3% income tax on anything above $40,346 with a stepped down tax bracket for lesser incomes. That’s in addition to a 7.25% sales tax and an $.18 per gallon fuel tax.

    Just so we are clear, if you make $45k a year (not an unreasonable sum in CA) you pay 16% of that to the State right off the bat and another 25% to the Federal Government. You also have no choice in paying this lest you risk jail time and confiscation of your property at the barrel of a gun.

  20. Schwarzi is a huge dissapointment. If only for the fact he sold out to be re-elected. At least if he went in with terrible ideas we would have known what we were buying.

  21. “Look, California’s tax system is structually broken, and has been since Prop. 13 was passed. This means lots of “soaking it to the rich”, putting everything on the credit card, and other accounting gimmicks that solve the problem in the short term but end up costing more in the long term. Unless you want to fire teachers and cops and stop repairing the roads, taxes probably have to go up. And, in the real world, the government has to pay for teachers and cops and roads.”

    I’d say it’s more like California’s spending system that is structurally broken. It’s involved in spending money on a great many things that were never any legitimate business of government in the first place. Of course California is hardly alone in that arena. The federal government and the rest of the states are guilty of that as well – although some of the other states are not quite as egregious about it as California is.

    Government may have teachers cops and roads, but it doesn’t have to pay union wages for them and it doesn’t have to siphon off higway trust fund money to pay for mass transit boondogles.

    And it doesn’t have to be in the business of paying for anybody’s healthcare. That’s a big chunk of money right there.

  22. As an employee of the University of California (often considered a state agency) I can say that my pay has only been increases by about 3% over the past 4 years. We have been notified that this year, the fiscal year that starts July 1, we will once again get no standard pay increase.

    There are ways to increase my salary, mainly by finding another position within the system, but no reward for hard work and continued service at my current position.

  23. But the state employees will pay back higher taxes, resulting in more revenues which can then be used for more high paying jobs!

    It’s a self-licking ice cream cone!

  24. “Don’t Blame Me … | May 27, 2008, 2:45pm | #
    … I voted for Gary Coleman.”

    You’d be surprised how often I actually use this line; and yes, I did vote for Gary Coleman.

  25. …but if you want good government, you have to pay…

  26. Kwix | May 27, 2008, 4:21pm | #

    In case you didn’t know, California has a 9.3% income tax on anything above $40,346 with a stepped down tax bracket for lesser incomes. That’s in addition to a 7.25% sales tax and an $.18 per gallon fuel tax.

    Just so we are clear, if you make $45k a year (not an unreasonable sum in CA) you pay 16% of that to the State right off the bat and another 25% to the Federal Government. You also have no choice in paying this lest you risk jail time and confiscation of your property at the barrel of a gun.

    That’s not true at all. The guy making 45k only pays the highest 9.3% on the last $4,654. The first bracket is only 1%. Plus, various deductions will reduce the level to even less. Plus, sales tax doesn’t apply to services, food, or goods purchased from out of state mail order firms, amoung others.

    I know you (and lots of people here) don’t like paying taxes, but don’t lie about how high they are.

    My point is, most of the services the state of California provides are services that most people think are neccessary. Unless you think public education and cops and paved roads aren’t good things, one has to pay for them.

  27. Geotpf | May 27, 2008, 6:19pm | #
    The guy making 45k only pays the highest 9.3% on the last $4,654. The first bracket is only 1%. Plus, various deductions will reduce the level to even less.

    I know you (and lots of people here) don’t like paying taxes, but don’t lie about how high they are.

    Mea Culpa on the tax rate confusion, though you are only partially correct. The initial tax rate on $45k is not 1% but closer to 4% (1,973/44,814) according to the 2007 Tax Schedule and 2007 Tax Calculator furnished by the State of California.

    My point is, most of the services the state of California provides are services that most people think are neccessary. Unless you think public education and cops and paved roads aren’t good things, one has to pay for them.

    Public Education is dubious in my mind as a “necessity”, particularly in light of how poorly public education has been performing. I agree that police protection is a good one and, so long as the state owns the roads, road repair is also a necessity.

    However, roads and police are not the big chunks of money as this chart shows. Instead, K-12 education and H&HS account for almost 75% of the total General fund budget with the following amounts alloted for 2008-2009.
    K-12 Ed = $43.7Billion
    Health and Human Services = $31.9Billion

    I know you like paying taxes and all, but don’t you think that is just a bit obscene?

  28. Unless you think public education and cops and paved roads aren’t good things, one has to pay for them.

    Ah, the familiar ploy of the bureaucrat when faced with budget cuts – threaten to fire cops and firemen first, rather than last.

  29. Unless you think public education and cops and paved roads aren’t good things, one has to pay for them.

    Ah, the familiar ploy of the bureaucrat when faced with budget cuts – threaten to fire cops and firemen first, rather than last.

    Even with that threat, the budget cuts will inevitably come from social services programs like free clinics, food banks, day care subsidies, mental health, museums, the arts, etc.

    Poor people are the first to get the funds cut, the LEO and Firemen Unions are too strong for thier gravy train to be cut off before the state goes bankrupt.

    /State employees have a great deal and they will ride the state into the ground, because they worked so hard at thier protected, union scale jobs.

    //Cut ’em off, do whatever it takes, make the bastrds earn an honest living like the rest of us.

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