Notwithstanding the fact that the government employee unions were the biggest financial backers of Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial race against Meg Whitman, he repeatedly assured us that he would govern independently. After all, he said, he is older and wiser, not interested in higher office and has nothing to prove. But the political version of the Golden Rule (He who has the gold, rules) was in full play toward the end of last week. Indeed, labor’s campaign contributions to Jerry turned out to be a golden investment.
Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 202, a bill reflecting all that is wrong with California and especially the Legislature as a political institution. This bill was a blatant union power grab and everyone — even left of center editorial pages — recognized it as such.
If there were any doubt whether Jerry Brown is a complete tool of labor, there isn’t anymore.
SB 202 is so wrong on so many levels. First, it mandates that, from now on, all initiative measures appear on the November ballot. The law now is that initiative measures which qualify in time to be placed on the June primary election will so appear. So what’s wrong with jamming all qualified initiatives onto one ballot — along with major candidate races — every November in even numbered years? Nothing, if you like ballot pamphlets the size of the Los Angeles phone directory. Ballot fatigue, which occurs frequently now, will be a certainty in these mega-elections.
Second, SB 202 moves the vote on a constitutional requirement for a better “rainy day fund” from June 2012 to November 2014. This budget reform was part of the infamous budget deal that left Californians with $16 billion in higher taxes. The only reform Republicans got out of this lousy deal was this fig leaf of budget reform — but at least it was better than nothing.
In exchange for the massive tax hikes, Democrats agreed that the budget reform would be voted on in this June’s election. Indeed, the statute itself mandated June as the time for the vote. But with Arnold gone and Jerry in, Democrats figured they could break the deal. They did and Jerry is the accomplice by signing the bill.
Two senior editorial writers, one with the Sacramento Bee and one with the San Francisco Chronicle (hardly bastions of conservative thought) both asked me the identical question: “Because the Democrats broke the budget deal crafted in 2009 as it relates to the rainy day fund, why would the Republicans ever negotiate with the Democrats again?” Their question provided its own answer: Having been stabbed in the back, legislative Republicans have no incentive for bipartisan cooperation for the foreseeable future and we have Jerry to thank for this sorry state of affairs.
Finally, SB 202 is the poster child for legislative abuses. This bill wasn’t even in print on the last day of the legislative session. Having the skids amply greased with labor contributions to their democrat puppets in the Legislature, the bill was introduced and then sailed through both houses. Committee “hearings” were a joke. No notice to the public at all. Testimony from experts on the impact on democracy in consolidating all initiative votes into a single November election? Forget about it. This was a “slam, bam, thank you Ma’am” job on the citizens of California if ever there was one.
Gov. Brown could have done the right thing and vetoed this monstrosity. But, as we now know, he is as beholden to government employee unions as much, if not more, than the Democrats in the Legislature.
As the rest of the nation begins to shake off the shackles of intransigent government labor interests, Jerry Brown can only ask “how high?” when those same interests say “jump.”
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.