With the amount of bills, contracts, and economic shifts occurring this year in California, it seems that the default of corporate interests are becoming more apparent than ever. Constituents are coming together as the majority rather than grand division yet it is not reflected within legislative choices made by political officials. A big, fresh contract for state prison guards in the California Correctional Peace Officers Association was approved last month that was hardly spoken about but wasn't questioned on the legislation level.
On Sept. 7, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office provided a critical fiscal analysis of the proposed contract for the state's prison guards.
The LAO noted that back in 2013, “state correctional officers were compensated 40.2% above their local government counterparts and 28.1% above their federal government counterparts.”
Govern for California, a government group, had revealed that prison guards in the state were given a 20 percent compensation increase in the second highest paid state and twice as much than the country's average.
According to the LAO, there isn't accumulating evidence that the guards are not being paid enough, as a majority of applicants for the guard academy are not accepted meaning those that are admitted, are paid very well. Despite the number of guards cut off in the past two decades, the state budget for corrections has increased dramatically.
The spending for corrections has increased by 25 precent, from 2017 to 2023. This is due to the state on on promoting giving more money to the guards that have already been well compensated.
The LAO also rightly pointed out that the compensation study conducted by the Newsom administration to justify giveaways to the prison guards union estimated to cost $1 billion over the next three years was flawed by design according to sources.
This study's purpose was to frame the payments for guards to look weak and even abuse the work that they do. In general terms, the LAO described the study: “the study is flawed to the point that it is not helpful in meeting its stated objective and we recommend policymakers not use it to assess whether the state's compensation package for correctional officers is appropriate to attract and retain qualified workers.”
It seems like something to expect from the Newsom Administration and state lawmakers as we have always thought before: to approve and accept the agenda of those that will fund their campaigns for future elections.
In September, the Assembly, without any members in opposition, voted to advance the prison guard union contract. During the month, the state Senate voted 31-5 to approve the contract. Sens. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, Caroline Menjivar, D-Los Angeles and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, were the only lawmakers with the integrity and clarity of mind to vote against the shameful waste of over $1 billion.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was elected with the support of the CCPOA and gained assistance during his recall in 2021, has no trouble helping them back.
For those that focus their work and support for those impacted with harm by mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex, did see this coming but should still be weary on those they support in the Democratic Party after this contract being approved. For those on the other side of the political spectrum, they should reconsider how their elected officials basically just gave tons of easy money to an already public sector union which means they are well-suited financially and politically.