California began issuing IOU’s last week as it continues to struggle to find ways to close its $26.3 billion deficit. The IOU’s were a result of the state legislature’s inability to pass measures to reduce the deficit. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger criticized Democratic legislators’ opposition to spending reforms and putting the unions’ interests ahead of the rest of the state:
“The legislators’ failure to act on these proposals sends a message to Californians that says, ‘We want you to make the sacrifices but we in Sacramento don’t want to make any sacrifices or any changes,'” Schwarzenegger said during a press conference in Fresno.
“Protecting the special interests who benefit from our dysfunctional system was more important to them than solving our deficit,” he said.
It’s sad to say that it’s no longer “news” that unions – especially public sector unions in California – have so much ability to dictate public policy. Remember that it was the SEIU that complained to the White House about the state’s plans to reduce wages (which would have affected their unionized workers), prompting the Obama Administration to threaten to withhold stimulus funds.
Steve Malanga wrote a recent op-ed about the vicious cycle that unions and state/local governments (like California) find themselves engaged in:
In the public sector, however, more union members means more voters. And more voters means more dollars for political campaigns to elect sympathetic politicians who will enact higher taxes to foot the bill for the upward arc of government spending on workers.
From this, it’s obvious why California’s state legislators are opposed to spending cuts. They don’t want to cut off their financial support and they don’t want to be the subject of the unions’ retaliatory campaign. Thus, the vicious cycle that only benefits the politicians and the unions continues while the rest of California is left to burn.