by Lou Binninger
As a Californian, where ever you notice troubles like increasing regulations, lousy schools, the highest taxes in the nation, wasteful government, Third World road and dam maintenance, services insolvency, or a corrupt state pension program, you have government employee unions to thank.
They own the politicians, and their hefty union dues literally control who gets elected and what measures and propositions pass. They are bullies and they are corrupt. Recently, they muscled any non-union workers off the Oroville Spillway project.
Your 12 cents per gallon increase on fuel as of November 1 and continuing for the next ten years, the additional DMV fees and the 72 cents per gallon spike starting on January 1, 2020 will pay overcompensated government employees who deliver their steep union dues to elect Democrat politicians.
Last year, Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), the only CPA in California’s state legislature, released a report on CalTrans which he summarized in the article “7-Step Fix for ‘Mismanaged’ Caltrans.” A few highlights reveal why the state’s billions are wasted.
In May 2014, the Legislative Analyst Office determined that CalTrans was overstaffed by 3,500 architects and engineers, costing over $500 million per year. In America, an average state transportation agency outsources over 50% of its work. CalTrans outsources only 10%.
Arizona and Florida outsource more than 80%. The unions benefit from California’s ‘white collar welfare’ keeping the payroll all union and with inflated numbers of employees whether they are needed or not. Little outsourcing means more union laborers and higher costs.
Therefore, the unions oppose any outsourcing. Outsourcing exposes their shameful wastefulness and they lose the dues and therefore the power to control. Moorlach found that 54% of CalTrans staff is at or near retirement age, so a hiring freeze would reduce staff merely through attrition, without requiring layoffs. However, the unions and therefore the politicians say “No way!”
The unions are pushing the Bullet Train Boondoggle. It will be union built, managed, operated, policed and maintained, all a cash cow for union political bosses.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association estimates that California’s freeways can be resurfaced and have a lane added in each direction at a cost of $5 million per rural mile and about twice that in urban areas. Autos and freeways offer residents maximum efficiency and flexibility in transportation.
Meanwhile, the latest estimate for California’s ‘bullet train,’ is $98 billion (that’s $245 million per mile). That same money could (at the urban price of $10 million per mile) resurface and add a lane in each direction to 10,000 miles of California’s freeways. Imagine smooth, unclogged roads. It’s not impossible. The unions just won’t have it.
Except for a couple population-dense urban areas in California, mass transit is a loser. That includes light rail and street cars where ridership never covers the costs. The invention of ride-sharing apps, the advent of non-polluting cars, and the option of using buses to accomplish mass transit goals all offer the superior versatility of roads versus rail for urban transportation.
Liberals carp about a lack of both enough housing and ‘affordable’ housing. This is laughable. They passed the environmental laws causing California housing to cost 2.5 times more than comparable sizes and locations in other states. The median home value in America is $202,700. The median home value in California is $509,600.
When union-backed politicians talk about needing more ‘affordable housing’ they are talking about unions constructing government housing projects where the funding is forcefully removed from taxpayers and the units are provided at nearly no cost to the ‘less fortunate.’ That is socialism.
Finally, let’s look at government union employee pensions. The average unionized state or local government worker in California makes over $120,000 per year in pay and benefits. However, to adequately fund their promised benefits, government will need to pay at least another $20,000 per employee to the pension funds.
This funding gap, over $20 billion per year, is the additional amount required to cover the difference between how much pension funds currently collect from taxpayers, and how much they must collect to keep the promises that union-bought politicians made to government unions they ‘negotiate’ with. Political incest produces unsavory outcomes.
Unions collect over $1 billion in dues annually and use it to get their way. You, the taxpayer then are robbed of your hard-earned money to maintain a corrupt over-funded and under-performing bureaucracy.