Remember my post on the union-inspired collapse of General Motors? The same factors are at play with California.
The governor readily admits that he sees the crisis as a chance to make big changes to government -- to "reform the system," he said Friday -- with proposals he has struggled to advance in the past.Yep, wonderful things those unions. First they engineered the downfall of GM, now it's California. New Zealand ain't that far away.
Among them: reorganizing state bureaucracy, eliminating patronage boards and curbing fraud in social services that Democrats have traditionally protected. The governor also would like to move past the budget crisis to reach a deal on California's water problems that has so far eluded him.
In past years, his plans ran into opposition organized largely by well-funded labor groups and Democrats, who say his proposals are really meant to strangle government. Now he is newly armed with negotiating power over Democratic lawmakers desperate to preserve state programs.
Back on the governor's demand list is a plan to cut the pensions received by state workers, which unions have stymied before but which he thinks may gain traction with a cash-strapped public. Schwarzenegger also views this as an ideal time to once again target growth and fraud in the state's multibillion-dollar in-home healthcare program, which employs 300,000 unionized workers.
His agenda includes anti-fraud efforts and tougher enrollment requirements for the state's food stamp programs, efforts that advocates for the poor say are designed to discourage people from participating. In his radio address, he said the state and counties could get by with a "fraction" of the 27,000 workers now handling eligibility for Medi-Cal and food stamps by using Web-based enrollment.
Schwarzenegger has revived plans to allow local school districts to contract out for services like school bus transportation and lawn maintenance, a proposal favored by the GOP but despised by school employee unions.
Hat tip: PM of NZ.