California’s prison guards are set to get a five percent pay raise this year.
Because California state government is led by unprincipled politicians who gladly throw around taxpayer money to appease public sector unions.
The 5 percent raise was so unjustified the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office had to speak up.
The LAO wrote in May that there’s “weak justification for (the) large pay increase,” that there’s “no evidence of recruitment and retention issues,” that “pay raises since 2001-02 have exceeded inflation,” that the “pay increase will likely be extended to managers and supervisors” and that the “pay increase could increase (the) state pension contribution rate.”
But none that mattered to the overwhelming majority of state legislators, who approved the one-year contract with the raise on June 14.
In the Senate, only Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, spoke up against the raise on the Senate floor. “If in this budget we are not going to make a concerted effort to reduce our unfunded liabilities, we should be very cautious about giving pay raises,” he said.
Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, usually one of the wiser state senators on criminal justice issues, nevertheless urged a vote in favor.
It passed 30-3, with only Moorlach, Democrat Steve Glazer and Republican Mike Morrell voting against.
The Assembly was no better. Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, was the only one to speak against it on the floor. “California already has the highest cost per incarcerated prisoner of any state in the country, this MOU will exacerbate that situation,” he said.
Then Democrat Phil Ting, wearing a bow tie, said something about how hard working the prison guards are and how other unions have gotten similar raises too and asked for a vote in support.
It passed 73-5, with Obernolte, joined by fellow Republicans Travis Allen, Catharine Baker, Kevin Kiley and Melissa Melendez, voting against the contract.
The lopsided outcome, in defiance of fiscal responsibility and the many reasons to vote against it, and the bipartisan approval for the deal is hardly a surprise.
Most Republican politicians will talk a good game about fiscal responsibility, but they have their own favored special interests, with “public safety” unions among their favorite, and they rarely flinch at Big Government in the form of grotesque prison spending.
The Democratic establishment, meanwhile, is all too willing to abandon principle to appease its primary constituent: public sector unions. After all, they’ll gladly throw disabled workers under the bus if it means pleasing the SEIU, as they just did. And they’ll throw unjustifiable pay raises to the California prison guards with little objection.
It’s no wonder California’s prison spending continues to rise even as the number of prisoners falls, and that as a result per-prisoner spending is now around $80,000 a year. It’s also no wonder it took a United States Supreme Court case, and multiple voter initiatives, for California to make any meaningful progress on criminal justice reform. California needed federal court orders and voter initiatives to do things right.
With Republican politicians who abandon fiscal responsibility and all their talk about respect for the individual when it comes to locking people up, and Democrats who mostly just care about keeping public sector unions happy, it’s no wonder California’s the mess it is.
It unfortunately appears the LAO, Moorlach, Glazer, Morrell, Baker, Kiley, Melendez, Obernolte and Travis Allen were the only ones who had their heads on straight when looking at the prison guard contract. All the others just revealed what they’re all about, and shouldn’t be taken seriously when it comes to budget matters or prison spending.
Sal Rodriguez is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org