Meeting The Governor’s Challenge

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times published an article entitled Newsom called it a ‘gimmick.’ Now he’s using the trick to lower California’s massive deficit in which the Governor’s spokesperson defends the proposed budget and challenges readers to come up with their own solutions to the deficit. I have five such solutions to propose, all of which pertain to reeling in extraordinary patronage spending on public employees:

  1. Reduce the number of Executive Branch employees, which has risen under Mr. Newsom to 252,000, or 6.47 employees per 1000 population, from 212,000, or 5.37 employees per 1000 population, in Governor Brown’s last year of office. Matching Mr. Brown’s number of employees per 1000 population would eliminate 43,000 positions, which assuming an average annual cost for salary and benefits of $100,000 would save $12.9 billion over the budget window.
  2. Revisit all contracts granted to 21 Bargaining Units that have contributed to annual salary spending this year of $27.4 billion, 40 percent more than Mr. Brown’s last year, and adjust salaries down to market levels. 
  3. Terminate OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits, primarily retiree healthcare) for state employees, which are being provided on top of rich pension benefits and despite the availability of Medicare, Obamacare and successor-employer healthcare. That would save $10.5 billion over the 3 year budget window.
  4. Require all subsidiaries that receive money from the state (eg, schools, cities, universities, colleges and counties) to terminate OPEB or forfeit state support. That would save ~$20 billion over the budget window.
  5. Require CalPERS to return $15 billion of voluntary pension contributions diverted to CalPERS from the General Fund since 2017 on top of $49 billion of required contributions and instead provide new employees with defined contribution plans only and adjust defined benefit levels for existing employees for years not yet worked to the benefit levels in place before SB 400 elevated benefit levels in 1999.

Also, Governor Newsom and the Legislature must stop accepting political donations from public employee unions, the funding of which is derived from contracts approved by elected officials and provided by taxpayers. Elected officials must stop representing public employees and start representing residents and taxpayers.