Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke this morning to the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Fresno. During a question-and-answer period, he was asked, "Why did the state workers have to bear the brunt of fiscal mismanagement? When do we get our money back? When will the furloughs end?"
Our Bee Capitol Bureau colleague, Kevin Yamamura, was listening to the event live and caught the governor's answer, perhaps his most lengthy public statement on his furlough policy to date.
You can download the audio file by clicking here. The furlough question starts at the 36-minute mark.
While you're waiting for the file to load, you can read Kevin's faithful transcription:
Well, first of all, the state employees don't have to take on an extra burden. I think that state employee that asked that question maybe is not in touch enough with the private sector so they can see what is going on in the private sector. But in the private sector, people are losing a lot of money as we speak right now. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their homes. People are losing their businesses. People are losing their families because of the stress and all of this. I mean, there is tremendous, tremendous hardship and pain that is being experienced all over this country in the private sector.
But none in the public sector. They still get the same wages, they all still have their jobs. Everything is the same, except, oh yes, I forgot. They got three furlough days last year. (some laughs) Well, excuse me. Does that mean they're the only ones that are being hit with making some sacrifices? I mean, it's crazy to even ask that question.
I mean, I like my state employees. I think they're working hard. We're not taking anything away from any state employee. But when the whole country all of sudden, the whole country's GDP goes down, and the state's GDP goes down, and the whole world is all of a sudden 20 to 30 percent worth less, then everybody ought to go and distribute this kind of pain a little bit and get a little haircut. So therefore everyone should be reducing their salaries, their wages and their benefits and everything. So I'm not going after state employees, no. I'm just asking them to participate a little bit with the pensions and then with the furloughs.
As you know, I have asked for the reduction to minimum wage, which again was no real burden because let's not forget that immediately banks came out and said we're going to give loans to any state employee that gets a reduction in salaries, so they can make their payments and have enough money and all of those things. So I think we all have to make certain sacrifices.
I make certain sacrifices. I'm working for seven years without getting any salary. My salary, I never receive, I just give it back to the state because that's not why I'm in this job. (Applause) I'm in this job for one reason. I do this work only for one reason, and that is because I'm an immigrant and I was received by America with open arms. And I've never seen the generosity like this ever before, not in Austria or anywhere else, that someone like me can come over with almost no money, with $20 in their pocket, with some sweaty clothes, and then have a career like that in bodybuilding, in movies, in business, politically, in every way possible.
So that's why I feel, you know, that the least thing I can do is work for 7 years and not think about my movie career or the $30 million a movie and all of those kinds of things. But forget that. I've made enough money because of California and because of America. So let's go and do something.
But that's the spirit everyone ought to have. It's our country. It's our state. It's not about me, me, me. It's about us together. That's the only way that the only poor person can get the services is, if everyone chips in now at this time, and it stimulates the economy and goes and makes certain sacrifices. Rather than beating up on the people and asking for more taxes when we did that last year. We increased taxes last year, the biggest tax increase in the history of California. Why do some people recommend double dipping all of a sudden and go back and ask for more taxes? That's crazy. There's no such thing, we will not increase taxes, but everyone has to make certain sacrifices and that's why we have reimplemented again the three-day furlough.
PHOTO: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger uses a graph to talk about the state's financial problems as he holds a round table meeting with academics, elected officials and opinion leaders on Thursday, July 8, 2010, to discuss California's pension crisis. Sacramento Bee/ Hector Amezcua.