Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to temporarily require 200,000 state employees to work for minimum wage has been terminated by State Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette today. Under Arnold’s proposal, since California did not pass a budget for the new fiscal year by July 1, many state employees would temporarily be paid minimum wage, then reimbursed for the lost income once the state eventually passes its budget, which is expected to occur around the time porcine creatures begin to sprout wings.
The reason that the judicial system became involved is that the governor ordered the State Controller to reduce the employees’ paychecks, but John Chiang, the Controller, refused to comply. So, the governor sought the court system to request that Chiang’s office be given a temporary restraining order, requiring it to accede to Arnold’s request. Instead, the judge ruled that temporarily cutting the employees’ checks would cause a hardship for them.
The judge, however, permitted the state to pursue a full court hearing, which is scheduled for July 26, to determine the legality of the request. The governor’s office, according to the Associated Press, issued a statement that it is confident that it will eventually succeed in the courts, and is equally confident that the state legislature will pass a budget.
Chiang has contended that his office’s computers are too antiquated to make pay changes such as this. Their computer system was last updated in 1970. He also said that the planned temporary reduction violates federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Coincidentally, Chiang has received about $200,000 in union campaign contributions so far this year.
Previously here, we have discussed the fatuousness of this entire game. Exactly how does it help the state budget if people are required to provide, in effect, an interest free short term loan to the state? Instead, its real intent appears to be to coalesce the state workers to provide some type of pressure to pass the state budget. But since the state has shown neither a willingness to make the cuts needed, nor the political will to pass cuts to maintain services, the deadlock will continue for the foreseeable future.