California Governor Jerry Brown has hired a "jobs czar" to help reduce the state's high unemployment.
On the surface, that makes a lot of sense. After all, California's unemployment rate is 12.0 percent, nearly 3 points above the national rate of 9.1 percent and second only to neighboring Nevada's 12.9 percent.
But a closer look at the governor's appointment raises serious questions.
Within Brown's executive branch lies the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, a cabinet-level position. Even more confusing is that the agency houses the California Economic Strategy Panel, whose mandate is "to develop a statewide vision and strategic initiatives...for economic growth and competitiveness."
Doesn't "economic growth" mean jobs?
All this is even more curious, given that Brown has gone on a binge to reduce government waste. He's recalled 48,000 state-owned cell phones and sold thousands of state-owned vehicles in an effort to save money, not to mention billions of dollars of cuts in the 2011-2012 state budget.
Why, then, hire someone to do a job that others are already supposed to do?
Brown's new appointee is the latest example of an executive branch in need of serious pruning. For example, if California elects an Insurance Commissioner, why does the executive branch also have a Department of Consumer Affairs? Or why do two cabinet-level agencies--the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and the Health and Human Services Agency--each have departments dealing with managed health care? In fact, the executive branch seems replete with duplication in all kinds of policy areas.
In fairness, Jerry Brown did not create this mess. He's actually called for the elimination of the several state agencies including the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Post-Secondary Education Commission.
Still, the size and complexity of the state's executive branch has been swelling for years. And adding a "jobs czar" next to jobs-developing agencies already in place doesn't seem to make things better.