What’s A Democrat Budget Cutter to Do? Advocates or Unions?
In a ProJo story about the impending state job layoffs instituted by Governor Carcieri, we are treated to a preview of the sort of tete a tete between the unions and various advocacy groups that will become common over the next few months.
Carcieri had been scheduled to meet with labor leaders this afternoon to discuss the layoffs and said he would broaden the discussion to include the state’s growing deficit.
“Once we get beyond the layoffs, what else do we want to give?” said Council 94 president Michael Downey. “No matter what we come up with, it’s not going to come close to $450 million.”
Downey said his employees are particularly troubled with the governor’s continued use of contract employees. Taking into account the reductions announced earlier in the month, roughly 450 would remain.
Downey also criticized the governor’s recent decision to hire a $130,000-a-year director of the state’s new Department of Revenue. “Conversations [with union members] would get easier if they weren’t constantly hiring people over $100,000,” he said.
But the Department of Revenue hiring was applauded by social-service advocates, who have long called on the governor to study the state’s tax structure.
“I’d like to hope that given the enormity of the problem that this year policymakers are going to be willing to sit down and take a hard look at revenues. No business would look at just slashing spending without looking at how well it’s generating profits,” said Kate Brewster, executive director of Rhode Island College’s Poverty Institute. “We call on the governor to sit down with us before he releases any major policy changes through the slash- and-burn approach, and hear our ideas.”
The unions and advocates are going to have to fight over a shrinking pot o’ gold. And neither they can do it without help from the Democrat legislature. So which way will the Democrat leadership go? Time for a refresher course in political calculus.