Thursday, September 10, 2009

RI state government shutdown for 12 days? Alas, it was but a dream...

A few weeks ago, my lovely state of Rhode Island decided that, in an effort to save money (without actually doing something as unthinkable as, oh say, cutting back the bloated state budget), they were planning to shut down the state government, sending all state employees home without pay and closing all state offices, for 12 days spread throughout the year. This shutdown was estimated to save about $22 million. The only reason they were even considering this is because Governor Carcieri would rather not lay off even more state workers, since so many were laid off in the past year.

Well, predictably enough, it seems incredibly unlikely that they are actually going to go through with this. A group of about 10 state workers' unions have started pressuring the state government both about the shutdowns and about the recent lay-offs of about 1000 state workers, arguing that it's a violation of their contracts. Last Friday was supposed to be the first shutdown day, but the judge proceeding over this case ruled that the state offices would be open Friday, and that the case was going to go into further deliberation.

This is just more evidence of how difficult it is to make any meaningful changes in government. Whenever you do anything, there's always going to be a group of government beneficiaries who come out to complain and to use the apparatus of the government to stop what you're trying to do. This isn't even someone from the outside trying to influence the government. It's the governor, and even he couldn't push through his own state government! Can you imagine if you were just a lowly serf from the outside trying to actually shrink the government even a tiny bit? If it's not impossible, then it's damn close.

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