Grover Norquist is only one conservative of many calling out for states to declare bankruptcy. Why? To kill unions, of course. His editorial in The Republico (Politico) doesn't say that outright, but it's his goal, nevertheless.
Citing acolyte Governor Chris Christie, Norquist writes that states' "day of reckoning has arrived." Norquist avoids the "u" word while listing every other "ill" plaguing states' budgets:
Many states, including those with the country’s largest population centers, are now on a path to insolvency. This is primarily due to fiscally promiscuous lawmakers, skyrocketing Medicaid costs and unsustainable gold-plated government employee pension plans that most Americans could never dream of.
These states’ ballooning obligations simply cannot be met without either soaking state taxpayers or federal assistance — read: taking taxpayer dollars from properly managed states.
Heading into 2011, states are facing an overspending-generated budget shortfall of $72 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Coupled with unfunded state and local pension obligations estimated in excess of $3 trillion — a half-trillion in California alone — one understands the concern that states are the next “too big to fail.”
Interesting that he should cite California as one of these states run by "fiscally promiscuous lawmakers". I still remember Darrell Issa's tears when the petition for a recall of Gray Davis made it onto the ballot, but with Arnold Schwarzennegger as the preferred replacement. Arnie has now been governor of this state for half of Davis' term and then one of his own. In that time, he has vetoed any effort to get oil companies to pay their fair share of taxes in this state, he has slashed programs to the bone, and the "fat pensions" are ones beefed up by the likes of the Bell City Council, not ordinary employees.
Norquist lays down his hand at the end of his editorial:
The mere “threat of bankruptcy,” as Michael Barone recently noted in National Review Online, “would put a powerful weapon in the hands of governors and legislatures: They can tell their unions that they have to accept cuts now or face a much more dire fate in bankruptcy court.”
Bada bing. There it is, in living color. It's not about pensions for the fat cats (which is really what's driving costs up), but about breaking the unions, a long-cherished goal of conservatives.
California's budget woes could be resolved easily enough by simply making oil companies and large corporations pay their fair share for doing business in California. Repealing or amending Proposition 13 would also help.
But no. In conservatives' worlds, the mismanagement of state finances should be on the backs of teachers, policemen, firefighters, and public employees.