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Senate Majority Leader: ‘Enough is enough’

Post by Kim Bradford on Dec. 22, 2009 at 11:14 am with 4 Comments »
December 22, 2009 11:14 am

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown has posted what is essentially a response to our editorial “Past time for state to get tough with unions.”

In her post “Enough is enough – state workers aren’t to blame!”, Brown argues (much as the union did last week) that state workers have already given up $800 million in compensation (raises that were negotiated but never given because the recession hit) in addition to other sacrifices. She says that to ask more of them would be unfair.

Like workers in the private sector, state workers are making major financial sacrifices. But we should resist the temptation to demand that they bear a greater share of the problem. We need remember that many of these workers are paid significantly less than what they might be paid performing comparable work in the private sector. We also need to remember just how critical the services are that state workers provide for our communities.

She also dismisses the suggestion that cutting state worker pay and benefits would help the state budget.

Even if we eliminated all state contributions to state workers’ health care in the current budget, we would still have a $1.65 billion shortfall to deal with. The Legislature isn’t going to be doing this, of course. But the example illustrates how pointing the figure at state employees doesn’t provide a realistic solution to the challenge we face.

Sounds a lot like state worker pay won’t be part of any budget solution coming out of Olympia next year, at least not if Brown has her way.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. derekyoung says:

    Has anyone done a recent comparison of government employee pay/benefits to comparable private sector jobs recently? I ask because I know that Senator Brown’s statement was absolutely true at one point a while ago, but I wonder if that hasn’t changed with skyrocketing health insurance costs and stagnent wages over the last several years.

    It’s hard to compare averages since most state jobs require more experience/education.

  2. jimkingjr says:

    Derek- while some categories of state employees have been underpaid compared to the private sector (based solely on salary/compensation- not benefits or intangibles such as job security), many others are overpaid- but those are never adjusted downwards.

    But the real error by Senator Brown is comparing state employees giving up what they never had- raises- as equivalent to workers in the private sector actually taking pay cuts. It is the same as viewing a less than anticipated spending increase as a “cut”- a government view that those in the private sector just have a hard time accepting.

  3. logicmonster says:

    This has nothing to do with “punishing” anyone, and has everything to do with fiscal responsibility. When revenues are down because customers are buying less of your product, you don’t raise prices so that you can give employees raises.

    Senate Majority Leader Brown ought to come to grips with fact that when she has a hole in her budget she will not be able to spend as much as she had planned to, and she certainly ought not raise taxes on (and thereby “punish”) the beleaguered working stiff for the benefit of state workers whose salary, benefits, job security, and workload are the envy of their private enterprise counterparts.

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