CA’s governor negotiates compensation with 209,000 employees. This year Governor Brown proposes $19 billion in salaries for them:
Look closely at Corrections and Rehabilitation, where 57,000 employees will collect $5.2 billion in annual salary, 18 percent more than in 2010 even though the prison population today is 22 percent lower. Including benefits, those employees will collect ~$8 billion, 4x the revenues of the country’s largest private prison corporation. Their political power arises from astute use of their collective bargaining rights, which Governor Reagan first conferred on local and county employees in 1968 and Governor Brown extended to state employees in 1977.
In his defense, Brown has had to make concessions to Corrections employees to gain their consent to reduce the prison population, which grew sharply after Brown signed Determinant Sentencing legislation in 1976. (Prison employees obtained some powers over prison operations from Governor Davis in exchange for their campaign support in 2002.) Those concessions include three salary increases.
To our knowledge, none of the current gubernatorial candidates has outlined a plan for reducing spending on Corrections compensation even though no spending more directly impacts funding for UC, CSU, courts, parks and social services.$8 billion for 57,000 employees is >2x the amounts budgeted for CSU and UC, which serve 12x as many students. Next time you see a candidate, ask.