If you needed more evidence that the Republican legislators
are right to push Governor Brown for long-term fiscal reforms in the current
budget face-off, look no further than the public sector contracts negotiated by
the governor. Giveaways in the contracts will only make budget matters worse as
time goes on.

At the end of last month, Daniel Weintraub reported
on this site
that the Legislative Analyst’s Office review of contracts made
by the administration and public safety employees found that the promised ten-
percent cost savings were not there. Weintraub wrote: "The analyst believes the contract will
actually increase costs this year, save just 2.8 percent next year and then
start adding to the state’s payroll costs again the year after next."

Weintraub added that the contracts were "chock-full of concessions by
the state." Among those concessions were big costs to the state on changes to
employees’ time off and holiday pay. The contract allows for nearly 8 weeks off
even for new hires. The legislative analyst doubts employees will use all that
time off and will bank the time to be paid later when the employee leaves the

Which is pretty much the same deal the prison guards got from Brown
under their new contract agreement.

As reported in the Los
Angeles Times yesterday
, the California Correctional Peace Officers
Association reaped the rewards of being a big Brown supporter in his run for

The guards’ contract offers the same 8 weeks off period; bankable hours
that can be paid off at the rate of pay in place when a guard retires, not the
undoubtedly lower pay scale when the guard took the time off; and a change from
the old contract that offers incentive money for guards to remain physically
fit to simply earning that incentive pay for showing up for an annual doctor’s

Cash payouts for certain retirees could reach well over a
quarter-of-a-million dollars, something the private sector workers never
receive when they retire.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office called the new deal a "huge liability"
for taxpayers.

While the legislature still has to act on these contracts, the deals
show this administration is not getting a grip on the state’s long-term fiscal
problems. The governor continues to push his tax increase plans as an immediate
solution to the budget hole, but has clearly taken his eye off any long-term
solutions to the budget’s structural problems. In fact, these deals will make
matters worse.

For all those who argued during the gubernatorial election that a
Governor Brown could play the role of "Nixon-going-to-China" with the public
employee unions, the details revealed about these union contracts are a major
disappointment. The culture of union demands putting more pressure on the
budget is not changing.

Now is the time to put in place major budget reforms and fix our
continuing budget mess for the long term, it is not the time to give away the store.