Debra J. Saunders

Even though the furloughs in question are scheduled to end June 30, the court should step in, as California cannot afford this uncertainty. For one thing, Roesch also has ruled that the state owes back pay -- some $600 million -- to the 65,000 employees. Should the state's big bench rule against all the furloughs, the state could be forced to pay out about $3 billion, according to Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola.

As a taxpayer, I hope that when these cases are settled, the bench does not overrule the furloughs. But if the court is going to do so, better sooner than later, given that Sacramento will have to find other means to balance the budget, and fill the current $20 billion shortfall.

The money will have to come from somewhere.

Think higher taxes. An SEIU brief berates "the governor's unreasonable insistence to avoid tax increases to pay the judgment and to keep the state services intact."

Do you get the distinct feeling that the unions are arguing that, while the California public may be subject to the laws of supply and demand, state workers are not and the taxpaying public better get used to it?

Indeed, the SEIU brief argues that, should the governor lay off employees, "the layoffs themselves would be subject to an injunction and back wages" as layoffs themselves should be considered an act of retaliation, for which -- oh, joy -- they can sue all over again.

In short, whatever Sacramento does to cut spending, big labor will turn into the subject of lengthy litigation -- with federal and superior courts acting as wild cards that order do-over budgets by fiat.

De La Torre was passionate in arguing that if workers' rights are violated, they are entitled to a remedy. But his line of argument suggests that as agents of the government, state employees have rights -- no pay cuts or layoffs -- that the taxpaying public does not have.

The only right you have, serf, is to pay for it.

Debra J. Saunders

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