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California goes for ‘Rae days’

Perhaps inspired by Ontario’s example under the NDP in the recession of the early 1990s, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has just told 238,000 state workers to take “unpaid furloughs” starting in February and running through June 30, 2010.

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the workers will take off two unpaid days per month. Managers may take an equivalent cut in pay. According to the report:

H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Schwarzenegger’s finance department, said the mandatory time off is the equivalent of about a 9% pay cut for affected workers. He said the furloughs would save the state more than $1.2 billion.

It is unclear how many people will lose their jobs. Palmer said each department will have to cut its payroll by 10% and will make its own decisions on how many workers must go.

A similar decision by Premier Bob Rae, imposing 12 days of unpaid leave, was very unpopular but did, according to Wikipedia, save Ontario almost $2 billion.

It also led to the total defeat of the NDP in the 1995 provincial election, with Conservative Mike Harris taking power and sacking thousands of civil servants.

If California follows a similar path, who will terminate the Terminator?

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