As part of his ongoing campaign to raise taxes, last week Gov. Jerry Brown made a pilgrimage to a major labor confab in Las Vegas. There he delivered a fiery speech to thousands of union delegates, touting his labor credentials and lashing out at Republicans and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, blaming the minority party and the taxpayers group for blocking his administration’s efforts to increase taxes and “invest” — spend, that is — more money.
Now taxpayers are willing to accept the premise that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and hope the governor will have a clearer head once away from the city that some regard as a “Fantasy Land” for adults. A dispassionate observer will note that Brown’s party controls the entire governing apparatus of California. Democrats hold every constitutional office and huge majorities in both houses of the Legislature. And because of the passage of their sponsored Proposition 25, all they need is a simple majority to pass a state budget of their choosing. Additionally, Californians already bear one of the highest tax burdens in all 50 states, the unemployment rate is second in the nation and businesses are fleeing the state due to suffocating regulatory policies.
The real reason that Sacramento has less money than Jerry Brown would like is because average taxpayers have so much less due to high taxes and the horrible economy. For a solution he would do well to examine the current political power structure that is responsible for the state’s dismal economic climate.
The actual governor of California is not Jerry Brown; our state is governed by the leadership of the government employee unions. Every elected official with a “D” after their name owes homage to the union bosses. This is why the Legislature has passed a slew of union backed bills, including one that would unionize as many as a hundred thousand child care workers. This, of course, means more dues money to be used by the union bosses to elect more union-controlled politicians.
Another union backed bill, one that has the potential for real mischief, is SB 202, which would move all initiatives qualified after July 1, 2011 to the November 2012 ballot. This is because the government employee unions fear a measure, the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act, that would limit both corporate and union money in politics and, under current law, would likely be voted on in June.
The motive behind moving the vote to the later election is that historically the general election has drawn a greater turnout of “low information voters” — those with little knowledge of the issues and who are more easily influence by expensive and deceptive advertising campaigns.
Adding insult to injury, SB 202 also postpones a vote on the permanent creation of a prudent reserve fund designed to carry the state through difficult economic times like those we face now. A 2012 vote on the “rainy day fund” was scheduled as part of the major tax increase agreement of 2009, but representatives of the best compensated state employees in the nation are concerned that setting money aside could cut into future raises and increases in benefits.
Even Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto was offended by this effort to postpone reform. The original author of the prudent reserve fund measure actually bucked the union position saying, “It is the most common sense reform that could possibly happen,” but his colleagues approved the delay anyway.
So now we come to Jerry Brown’s dilemma. The bill to postpone the votes on these critical measures sits on his desk. He can do the bidding of the government employee union bosses and sign SB 202 or he can go against the grain and potentially free his party and all politicians from the grip of special interest money as well as establish a prudent reserve by allowing a vote this June.
This is Brown’s “Nixon to China moment” and by using his veto pen we hope he will strike a blow for long overdue political and fiscal reform.
Governor, you can be a hero.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.