Los Angeles Times, 6/27/10

Re “State employees are not the budget culprits, 6/21/10”:

George Skelton is correct that Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget, tax and pension reforms would not erase this year’s deficit. But they would erase our kids’ deficits.

Were the governor’s reforms in place 11 years ago, today’s deficit would be a fraction of its $19-billion size and the state would not have $500 billion in pension debt.

Every year, journalists get distracted by the current budget deficit and take their eyes off reforms that would stop deficits from being created in the first place. Tax increases become a “necessity.” That rewards the behavior that got us here in the first place.

This year’s deficit has everything to do with legislators bowing to the demands of public employee unions. The numbers prove it: State spending on employee compensation and benefits is up 65% over the last 10 years. Former Speaker Willie Brown has it right: When 80% of every revenue dollar goes to employee compensation and benefits, budget deficits won’t be solved until legislators free themselves from union influence.

David Crane, Sacramento
The writer is special advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for jobs and economic growth.