Keeping up the Pressure on Stupid, Part 2

I was flipping through the channels last night, and came upon the Cal-Channel. Normally you just see some boring hearings on some bill that has some lobbyist up in arms. Ho-hum.

Not the case last night.  Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego) was busy ripping into a pair of Arnold flacks. They have a tamed down version at the Bee:

That admission, made by Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization executives at a Senate hearing, left a Democratic senator angrily questioning whether the Schwarzenegger administration’s plan to furlough state workers a third day each month is cost-effective.

“I don’t believe the third furlough day is creating the savings (the Department of) Finance has said. Their projections are not credible,” said Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, who chaired the morning hearing.

Finance Department official Chris Hill defended his department’s numbers, touting an estimated $1.3 billion in savings from the three-day-a-month furlough program. (SacBee 8/26/09)

Now, this really didn’t do the incident justice.  Round and round Chris Hill went. I don’t know how many times he talked about the $1.3 billion in savings without giving any rationale for those numbers.  Instead of figuring out where we can get savings and where furloughs just don’t make sense, we are doing this across the board. It’s a rather clumsy way of doing this, and really hurts the state.

Ducheny pointed out one example of cost ineffective furloughs, specifically, prison guards getting overtime to work in the aftermath of the Chino riots. You can point to a number of others beyond the Franchise Tax Board. Take the one that Asm. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) has been using to keep the pressure up on stupid (Part 1), federally funded agencies that Arnold furloughed that actually cost the state federal dollars.

It’s this kind of stupid that makes digging our way out of budget holes even more challenging.  And for this stuff, we are just making it unnecessarily hard.

Over the flip find my very rough transcript from last night. It’s really not that accurate, but it gets the general drift across.

Here’s a fairly rough transcript based on my memory of seeing the taped hearing last night:

Ducheny: So, does furloughing the Franchise Tax Board staff save us any money?

Arnold flack #1, (Chris Hill from the Dept. of Finance): It saves us $40 million over the current fiscal year.

D: But what about the amount of money coming through the door, isn’t that affected?

AF#1: Well, yes, it costs the state what we estimate to be about $350 million.

D: So how is this saving us any money?

AF#1: The administration feels that there could be no exceptions if we were going to get the $1.3 billion in savings from the furloughs.

D: But this is costing us money, not saving us any money:

AF#1: The administration felt that there could be no exceptions, it would affect morale and everybody would start coming up with reasons not to be furloughed.

D: But this seems to be a pretty good reason. You said yourself that this is costing us, over $300 million. I just don’t see how it makes sense to do this.

AF#1: Well, you’ll have to talk to the personnel administration for our HR policies.

D: Ok, we’ll turn to her. How does this make sense?

AF#2, (Unkown from the Personnel Administration): Well, we felt that if there were exceptions, we would not be able to get the savings.

D: Well, you could have gotten the savings, and probably more, if you had just negotiated with the public employee unions. There is only one union with a contract, and the other 28 or so are operating without a contract. And one more, SEIU 1000, is having their contract held up. This, it seems, is the point of the Office of Personnel Administration. What are you doing?

AF#2: Well, we do lots of things and we are actively negotiating.

D: You are, then why are there no contracts? It seems to me we should be furloughing the Office of Personnel Administration instead of the Franchise Tax Board.

AF#2: We do lots of things, and we have a meeting on Wednesday for a negotiation. We are constantly negotiating.

D: (Sigh)

3 thoughts on “Keeping up the Pressure on Stupid, Part 2”

  1. And the senator could have asked:

    What about all the tax revenue the state will lose on the income these employees no longer make?

    What about all the sales and hospitality tax income we will forgo after we close half our state parks?

    How will we pay for the more expensive medical care disabled people living at home will now require?

    How we will make up for federal matching funds we will no longer qualify for? Or stimulus funds we won’t get? In many cases, these also exceed the value of the cuts.

    I could go on. But the cuts our state government made cost us so much more than they saved us in so many ways, that more than a few informed citizens (largely Calitics readers I’m sure!) wanted to sigh, scream, rant, and rave. Some of us did. Not that anybody seems to have heard.

    Now they finally notice we were right. Well golleee!

  2. Just saying, if this is the worst these public employees have to face, they should consider themselves lucky. Us private sector workers are dealing with 12% unemployment at the moment.

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