The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association just published a report responding to Jerry Brown's budget proposal. If you listened to his speech and read the copy, you'll notice a few items Jerry has omitted from his request for cuts - namely his old buddies in the public employees unions. Oh, there's a chance if he makes good on his threat to cut 10% across the board for state employee salaries there will be some impact to the rank and file of state workers. But no real cuts to personnel, and no cuts to the over staffed committees, commissions and redundant bureaus that plague our state filled with people earning $125,000 and more.
Very sad to note that, much like President Obama, the business community is barely an afterthought on his radar. This state is hemorrhaging jobs by the thousands to more business friendly states. Business should be his first area of focus - how can he work with them to retain and increase jobs in the state. Nope - just an afterthought.
Brown needs the votes of 2 Republicans to get this tax increase extension on the ballot this spring. Lets hope the caucus holds firm in demanding some real, genuine, honest reductions in state spending before we resort to taxing the businesses and citizens even more. It's time to stop running this state on the backs and out of the pocketbooks of our citizens.
Frankly, I doubt Jerry is up for that challenge. We'll see billions spent to demonize Republicans and businesses during the next couple months. Follow the money - the public unions aren't going to fritter away billions on this attempt if they don't expect a substantial pay-off. Unions are not altruistic by nature. If there's nothing in it for them - they ain't interested. Given the fact that Jerry was the one who opened the door to them 25 years ago, it seems unlilely he'll also be the man to close that door. Hope I'm wrong.
Jerry on a Leash
By Jon Coupal
Governor Brown has submitted a budget that he claims includes drastic spending cuts. And he has dropped the other sandal by announcing he will also seek massive tax hikes, a package of increases that are essentially the same as those overwhelmingly rejected by voters in May of 2009.
While the expert analysis of the budget plan continues, it has already become obvious that a number of items described as “cuts,” do not represent a decrease in spending, just tricky bookkeeping. For example, Brown shows a billion dollar pay down on the deficit by raiding the voter approved Proposition 10 tobacco tax that goes to support children’s services.
However, one does not need a green eyeshade to see that two areas of state spending that are being held sacrosanct are K-12 funding and prisons. In fact, if Brown’s plan is approved, the prison budget will be expanded from $8.9 billion to 9.1 billion, even though California already spends over twice as much per prisoner than does Texas, and much more than the national average.
Perhaps Brown has insulated these programs against reductions because they in fact reflect his policy priorities. But a telling statement he made when talking to reporters reveals a far more political motivation. When he was asked who would help him in a campaign for the tax hikes, Brown immediately said “CTA.” After a pause, he followed that up by mentioning other labor groups and then, almost as an afterthought, he mentioned the business community.
It is no accident that he listed the powerful teachers union first. The California Teachers Association (CTA) spent more than two million dollars to support passage of taxes in the 2009 election and has the potential to spend millions more in support of ballot measures it likes. And the politically active prison guards union has the potential to spend many millions in support of higher taxes to protect pay and benefits for its members.
So while the governor has promised he will not try to impose new taxes without voter approval, he is lining up government employee union backers who can spend tens of millions of dollars without batting an eye to overwhelm regular folks who are already having trouble meeting mortgages or rent in a state where those who are unemployed or underemployed is nearly 23 percent.
Need more evidence that Brown is catering to the most powerful government employee unions? He has booted those members of the State Board of Education who supported reform and were opposed by the CTA.
Expect to see these unions bankroll an avalanche of television ads in support of higher taxes focusing on children and the elderly and any other group that political spin doctors believe will illicit sympathy and get voters to open their wallets. In fact, the ads will surely ask for a generic vote of “yes,” without ever mentioning the words tax increase. Nowhere will we see represented the impact that our already high taxes have had on forcing business and jobs to flee the state, and the unemployed and under employed that are left in the wake.
Make no mistake; it is working families, especially low income families that will bear the brunt of these tax increases. The sales tax is highly regressive. The car tax will be the greatest burden on the working poor. And the impact of cutting the tax exemption for children is obvious.
So the question remains, will voters be convinced by a multi-million dollar ad campaign to approve tax increases which are designed, first and foremost, to protect public employee unions? It didn’t work in May of 2009 and, if anything, public perception of government unions has deteriorated even further. Perhaps no amount of campaign funds will give the unions the tax increases they so desperately want. And, after criticizing Meg Whitman on how much she spent on her run for Governor, perhaps a costly defeat for the unions would be poetic justice.