Brother, Can You Spare $2 Billion?



When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't forcing state employees to go on three days of unpaid leave every month, he's asking them for a $2 billion loan. That's the news coming about the Sacramento Bee today, as word leaked that the Grand Teuton has privately floated a proposal to borrow the money from CalPERS, the state employees' pension investment fund, to close the $19 billion budget deficit. State leaders have worked this scheme before; Pete Wilson borrowed a roughly similar amount in 1991 to close that year's budget gap. But union leaders generally get irritated when governors come begging for cash, and they'll want something in return. We can't say we're all that sympathetic to state employees; the spikes in public pension benefit outlays since 1999 have been truly unreasonable, and are a main factor behind not just the state's budget problems, but those of almost every other city and county. Since they're so much of the problem, they could be part of the solution this time around.