State workers are already an issue in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial campaign. Both top contenders for the party's nomination, ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, have talked about further cutting California's employee expenses.
Both candidates appeared at the state Republican convention over the weekend and pledged they wouldn't raise taxes if elected to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Regarding state employees, Whitman said this during a Saturday press conference:
I think that the thing that was not looked at carefully at all was the size of the bureaucracy and the size of the number of employees that serve the state. Every company, every not-for-profit, when you see the kind of revenue declines the state has had, you have to look at headcount.
And there were, you know, furloughs. I think we should have looked at doubling the number of furloughs and, frankly, taken out 10 percent of headcount across the board. And trust me, it can be done without degrading the services to the citizens of California.
Poizner has a similar take.
In a Feb. 17 meeting with The Bee's Capitol Bureau reporters, he said that under his leadership, his department has gone from about 1,300 workers to about 1,150 through attrition and technology improvements to boost efficiency. It's proof, Poizner said, that he can use similar techniques to trim the work force throughout California's vast bureaucracy after a thorough review of state operations.
IMAGES: Steve Poizner / Sacramento Bee, Randall Benton; Meg Whitman / Sacramento Bee, Hector Amezcua