Saturday, June 13, 2009

An expected piece of hypocrisy from Senator Nancy Cook ...

... regarding the JFC and the Delaware budget.

Of the proposed 2.5% State employee pay cut that the Joint Finance Committee is now pushing, Senator Cook says, according to the WNJ:

The only alternative to a pay cut, Cook said, would be layoffs -- something she is dead-set against. The JFC discussed furloughs, she said, but ruled them out because they couldn't come up with a way to do it fairly.

Two issues:

1) Several months ago, Governor Jack Markell warned us that the only alternative to an 8% across-the-board State employee paycut was ... layoffs. Now, suddenly, 2.5% is the magic number. Which means that Senator Cook is ... suggesting that the Governor was lying about the 8% being necessary, or what? And why, exactly, should we believe Senator Cook now when suddenly instead of $92 million, $29 million is the magic number?

2) The JFC--in what is supposed to be its last secret session ever (holding my breath and waiting for the court challenge in the off-season)--ruled out furloughs because they couldn't figure out how to do them fairly. Of course, if they had invited the State employees' unions to present proposals for doing furloughs fairly, they might have gotten an answer. But that would have meant actually opening up the deliberative process not just to transparency, but also to public participation.

Or they could have just asked DuPont. Dozens if not hundreds of DuPont employees were told they were receiving furloughs, given the total number of days they had to take, and allowed to work out their schedules on a department by department basis.

Why are furloughs the superior answer, Senator Cook, even if they might actually require (God forbid!) a little thought and work?

Because furloughs are not theft.

The State of Delaware made contracts will the unions representing all these employees. The contracts were promises to pay. Based on the surety of those contracts the employees went out and applied for mortgages and auto loans. Now the State is in the unilateral process of demanding the same work for less pay than it promised. If the State instead were to go with furloughs, employees would be paid the same rate for the time they work, and--instead of the paycheck--would be given back their time.

My next door neighbor is on furlough from DuPont just about every other Friday. Yesterday he used the time to replace some of the siding near the roof of his garage, a task he hadn't been able to accomplish for several months. So he didn't get paid, but he didn't get screwed out of both his money and his time.

It is the essence of hypocrisy for State legislators like Senator Cook to rehash the old line that this particular pay cut represents the only way to avoid lay-offs, when the number she is citing is completely different than the one the Governor cited to kick off the whole process.

It is worse than hypocrisy to admit that lay-offs are not on the table because our legislators are too damn lazy or too damn stupid to work out an equitable program and too jealous of their fleeting vestiges of secrecy to ask for assistance.


Mark H said...

"ruled out furloughs because they couldn't figure out how to do them fairly"

Steve, not sure they could figure how much 1+2 equals either :)
Although I've been a pretty vocal dissenter of the 8% paycut, I've always preferred furloughs to the paycut for exactly the reason you mention. I'd at least have the extra time to do with what I'd like.

G Rex said...

More like, ruled out furloughs because they couldn't figure out how to do it without sending some lawmaker's daughter son, nephew etc. home for the day.

In the real world, the first response to budget shortfalls is to cut available hours for hourly workers - see also; better than minimum wage earning college students who would otherwise be waiting tables - and put more work on the backs of salaried employees. If you did that at at DelDOE, for example, it would mean that all these overpaid administrators would have to do actual work.