Gavin’s Guards Giveaway

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

It’s a rite of passage for California governors: giving prison guards even bigger salaries.

Gavin Newsom has now completed the rite, negotiating another raise for members of California’s correctional officers union, as part of his first budget.

It was the worst piece of a first budget that felt under-ambitious for a governor who had promised to push at limits. The prison guards’ contract will provide evidence for those who believe that Newsom, for all the rhetoric, is more of the same.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office took apart the 3 percent raise in the contract, showing it was unjustified. The guards already make plenty of money and far more than any counterparts, and there is little issue with recruitment and retention.

Worse still, the state’s expenditures on prison operations keep going up, despite the big decrease in the prison population.

What happened to the savings from reducing prison population?

It’s in the prison guards’ paychecks, courtesy of the governor.

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