The Republican mantra is that the real problem with the state budget is that state employees simply make too much and enjoy far too generous benefits. If we could just get rid of those damn public employee unions, we could balance our state budget merely by slashing the health care benefits and reducing the pay of state workers.
That’s the type of “fiscal conservatism” we’ve come to expect from Republicans. You know, like Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna:
- Total bonus payments within the Attorney General’s office exceeded those of any other state agency. Of the $1.9 million awarded as bonuses to state employees during FY 2009, nearly one-third – $599,000 – went to members of the McKenna’s staff (McKenna has been Attorney General since 2005).
- The AG’s office awarded larger than average bonuses. While the average performance award for a state employee was $204, members of the AG’s office were awarded bonuses averaging $664 with 55 staffers getting bonuses of $3,000 each.
- Bonuses were widespread. The AG’s office awarded a total of 901 bonuses to its staff of 1321 staffers, including 55 awards of $3,000 each.
- Most awards were given during the economic downturn. In fall 2008, Governor Gregoire advised agencies to withhold performance recognition awards, and most agencies complied. However, the AG awarded the vast majority of his awards in February 2009, just as the Legislature was making draconian spending cuts to education and public health programs in an effort to balance the state budget.
Do as I say, not as I do, and all that.