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California Political Analysis: Effects Of A Budget-less Fiscal Year

Audio

Aired 7/6/10

California's new fiscal year started almost a week ago and there's still no budget in-place.
We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

DWANE BROWN (Host): California's new fiscal year started almost a week ago and there's still no budget in-place. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. A judge Leo backed the governor’s order to lower the pay of about 200,000 state workers to federal minimum wage until a spending plan is reached. But the state controller says that’s easier said then done right?

LEO MCELROY (Political Consultant): Absolutely, two wins is not enough for the governor in this battle. It’s going to go on and on and on. The Controller John Chiang, is threatening to re-appeal this to another level to enforce his belief that he cannot impose the federal minimum wage on the state workers. And he is going to be probably backed, or at least accompanied in this fight, by a couple of major unions. Two of the ones that haven’t reached deals with the governor are the California Correctional Peace Officers Association – the prison guards – who are big and combative and politically pretty powerful and have been at war with the governor for quite awhile and SEIU, which represents a lot of the bargaining units in state government and has built a reputation on fighting for their people. So we’re likely to see this fight go on for a while even as the controller says besides that it’s just too complicated to redo their computers to issue the minimum wage paychecks.

BROWN: Well, besides a fight over wages, Leo, what are some of the other effects that a budgetless new fiscal year will have?

MCELROY: Well, it’s really going to bite a bunch of people, particularly those who do business with the state. I think you tend to look at this and say who? Well, there are a lot of state operations that depend on private business. For example, the Department of Forestry uses airplanes that are supplied by people who have the planes for them when the fire season starts, or who do maintenance on them, or more importantly do fuel for the planes. If those contractors aren’t getting paid, they’re not going to come through with the goods. And so they’re a lot of state agencies in a similar situation, dependent on private contractors, who are now threatened with not being paid until there is a budget. And heaven only knows when that’s going to happen.

BROWN: Well, do the front runners in the governor’s race have any budget solutions?

MCELROY: The front runners in the governor’s race have very few solutions to anything to be perfectly honest with you. If you talk to people around California, what you’re beginning to find is that this race for governor is being viewed as a rummage sale. Almost always the reaction is well I don’t like that one, but on the other hand I really don’t like that one. And you suspect that the words “yes, but” is going to be heard a lot as people make their final decision on which way to vote. Nobody is coming up with practical solutions out of the two candidates for governor. We’re hearing layoff threats from Meg Whitman that are impractical because she can’t do that much layoff legally under state law without shutting down the government. And Governor Brown, former Governor Brown, wants to be Governor Brown again, is being pretty vague in most of his suggestions, including let’s put it all up to the voters.

BROWN: Non-partisan political consultant Leo McElroy.

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