As he enters his final year in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is picking a new fight with one of his favorite foils--the prison guards' union.
In the process, he likely will be helping one of his political allies, private prison company called Corrections Corp. of America--and skewering one of his foils, California's prison guard union.
In his State of the State speech today, the lame-duck governor proclaimed his intention to push to privatize prisons. Such a move, he says, would sharply cut the $8 billion-plus the state spends on prisons.
He plans to use a ballot measure that would entice voters by guaranteeing that the state would spend more on universities than on prisons. He will face a major fight. The prison guards' union fiercely opposes private prisons and repeatedly has shown its ability to spend millions on campaigns.
But of course, its money is not unlimited. Any money it spends to battle Schwarzenegger at the ballot would be money it could not spend to help elect candidates who might be friendly to the union's cause.
In tomorrow's column, I will be explaining how one firm, Corrections Corp. of America, has received a lucrative contract to house California inmates. One legislator, Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), is preparing to hold hearings on the matter later this month.