Schwarzenegger Breaks his Own Hiring Freeze

January 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is ignoring his own executive order to mandate hiring freezes and unpaid furloughs. He's appointed several high-paying positions including one for a former Valley lawmaker.Nicole Parra, who served as Assemblywoman for the 30th District for six years will now be the Director of the Regional Development Initiatives. She will earn about $128-thousand dollars with the newly-created position.

Throughout the 77-day budget stalemate, Governor Schwarzenegger has warned California is running out of cash. Yet, he just appointed termed-out Democrat, Nicole Parra, to a brand new position to help create jobs in the Central Valley, where unemployment has been in the double digits. She'll make more than $128,000 a year.

"This is the one governor who has been to the Valley numerous times and is very well versed in issues facing some of the poorest communities in our state," said Nicole Parra.

But critics, including state workers and taxpayer groups, said the hiring is irresponsible when the governor's own executive order is forcing state workers to take unpaid furloughs.

"This is evidence that many of our policy leaders are, on the one hand saying there's a severe budget crisis, but their actions don't reflect their words," said Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

High-paying appointments, including those on state boards, have been under fire recently as a place to appoint out-of-work politicians who've been termed out. When Governor Schwarzenegger took office, he promised to "blow up the boxes" that wasted taxpayer money, like state boards.

"It's amazing. He's supposed to be blowing up the boxes, not gift wrapping them. He certainly seems that he's been giving a way a number of position on a variety of boards, and we're in a crisis," said State Senator Jeff Denham (R) Merced.

The governor also recently appointed Republican Greg Aghazarian to the worker's compensation appeals board.

Republicans Bonnie Garcia and George Plescia went to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and Democrat Carole Migden to the Integrated Waste Management Board; all with six figure salaries

The governor's aides said while major cuts are being made, it's his duty to fill board vacancies.

"He's saving the state million of dollars through his executive order, and his proposed budget is going to save billions, about a 10% cut in state government. He still has a responsibility to make sure state government functions," said the Governor's Press Secretary Aaron McLear.

The governor isn't the only one appointing former lawmakers to plumb jobs. Both democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate have made a handful of appointments themselves."

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