State workers’ ride

The last few weeks have seen politics go to the fair, with state employees and vendors strapped into an out-of-control roller coaster. The employees now face the threat of receiving the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as long as there is no budget agreement; state vendors, many of them small businesses, won’t be paid at all.

It’s interesting that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is only taking his punitive, minimum-wage stand with employees in bargaining groups that have not yet negotiated new contracts. It’s a blatant move to put pressure on the employee unions to acquiesce to all the governor’s demands.

Of course, State Controller John Chiang claims that he can’t pay state employees minimum wage even if he wanted to, and he and the governor are now trading lawsuits, no doubt drafted by attorneys at taxpayers’ expense.

Meanwhile, most of the credit unions and banks that serve state employees have stepped up—as they have in similar past situations—to provide no-interest loans to their customers who are state employees to “cover” the lowered paychecks if they are actually issued August 1.

Vendors will get nothing.

It’s a roller-coaster ride guaranteed to make everyone sick—well, pretty much everybody, except the professional politicians with their hands on the throttle. It’s just so much unnecessary pain, dished out to the people who are not responsible for the budget fiasco.

Let’s get off the darn roller coaster. The state needs to pay people what they’re owed and quit messing with their lives for political purposes.