Breakin’ the Law, Breakin’ the Law

Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger will sing some Judas Priest at his New Year’s party tonight as yet another judge rules his furloughs are illegal:

An Alameda Superior Court judge has ordered the Schwarzenegger administration to stop furloughing thousands of public servants who are members of three major public sector unions, including the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, offering state workers a huge legal victory as 2010 begins.

In a ruling handed down late Thursday, Judge Frank Roesch said the governor’s reliance on provisions of the state’s Emergency Services Act to order mandatory furloughs was flawed and illegal, saying “the emergency necessitating them was the failure of the Legislature to pass the budgets” yet the administration continued the furloughs even after the budgets were passed.

This comes on the heels of several other recent court decisions regarding Arnold’s budget cuts, including a recent case won by the prison guards union and another recent case blocking cuts to IHSS workers. As a result Arnold is whining about the courts, apparently upset that he is a governor and not a dictator, living in a system with three equal branches of government:

Schwarzenegger suggested in October that when judges make decisions, they should take into account the fact that California is grappling with a historic shortfall.

“Whenever they agree with me, they’re right, very simple,” Schwarzenegger said wryly in a Capitol news conference. “When they don’t agree with me, they’re wrong and they’re interfering with our governing of the state.”

Whatever, dude. Next time, try budgeting within the law rather than against it. Maybe in 2010 Arnold can make a resolution to actually solve the state’s budget crisis with lasting new revenues instead of breaking the law and hoping the courts won’t notice.

6 thoughts on “Breakin’ the Law, Breakin’ the Law”

  1. Instead of counting their blessings that they’re not being fired like the rest of us, they’re wasting their members’ dues fighting this in court. Hope their members enjoy standing on the unemployment line now that the Governor is out of options.

  2. I agree that it’s important to follow the law — especially politicians.  What I don’t agree with is progressives’ incessant call for increased government revenues to support government worker wages.  On average, government workers earn more in wages and benefits than the private sector workers.  When you increase taxes you’re effectively advocating for an income transfer from the relatively poor private sector workers to the relatively rich government workers.  Progressives always side with the rich, powerful unions and against the poor and working class.    

  3. Well said.

    And for those who blame the unions for the court battle- it is not the union’s fault if the Gov breaks the law.  You have to enforce the provisions of a contract or there’s no contract in effect.  A unilateral 15% pay cut is not actually an option, the employer is required to negotiate.

    Another reason to get realistic about state revenue, there are unescapable costs for human labor in a civilized society.  

    Arnold could always opt to bargain in good faith the first time.  That would save a lot of money.

  4. The likely result of the ruling will be to get Arnie & Co. back to the bargaining table. The Unions negotiated an agreement with Arnie last year that would have helped to address the State’s budgetary problems. It was Arnie who immediately violated the agreement by ordering more furloughs.

    Arnie’s strategy has been to engage in bad-faith bargaining and then up the ante. He has been pursuing what he probably knew were illegal actions, while counting on the slowness inherent in the court system to delay any legal push-back. Any ruling at the appellate level will probably take a year. By that time he will be out of office. It is likely that  the voters of the State will elect a Democrat to the Governors office next November. That Democrat will get stuck with the bill for Arnie’s illegal actions in addition to rest of the  mess the he is leaving behind. This is the outcome that I believe that Arnie is working towards.  If Judge Roesch does not grant a stay of his ruling during appeal, I believe that Arnie will be forced back to the bargaining table where negotiations will be much more difficult.  

  5. The other option, of course, is to make real cuts. This will further erode public services and throw thousands onto the unemployment rolls–raising state unemployment figures and costs. The higher unemployment numbers will raise forclosure rates and cut the property tax income to the state and to the counties. It will cut revenue of local businesses and therefore sales tax revenues. It’s a dangerous downward spiral.

    It’s also pretty much guaranteed suicide unless you’re just running for office and trying to sound like a budget hawk. Otherwise, spreading this kind of misery tends to make a sitting governor look pretty bad. As Arnold would have found out already if the Assembly didn’t keep trying to stop it.

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