A Sacramento Bee editorial today smacked state legislators
for the annual “show of Capitol Kabuki,” dueling press conferences, rallies and
town hall meetings staged by members of one party to try to bring pressure on members of the other
party to budge on the state budget.
A few hours later, the Bee scooped this story: Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger plans to sign an executive order next week that will reduce pay
for more than 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per
hour to preserve cash in the midst of a month-long budget standoff.
A new act in the Kabuki show? A chance for state workers to
display their political muscle with legislators and get a budget passed? A
political misfire by the governor? What do you think?
You may recall that state workers were paid with IOUs during
a budget stand-off in 1993. That was later ruled to be illegal by a federal
judge, and the state ended up giving workers unpaid time off as part of the
settlement. Schwarzenegger’s plan evidently includes back pay when a budget is finally adopted.
I covered the Legislature off and on for about 15 years,
including two stints as a correspondent in Sacramento for another newspaper, and spent several summers reviewing the Kabuki show in all its vainglory. That was
pre-term limits, so the players are different now, but my guess is this show won’t end anytime soon.
Labor Day, anyone?
— Jim Sweeney