By Kevin Yamamura | Sacramento Bee
Monday, Apr. 13, 2009 - A powerful California public employee union formed a campaign committee Monday with two other labor groups to oppose Proposition 1A, a May 19 ballot measure that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have said will solve future budget problems.
Service Employees International Union's California State Council, which says it represents 700,000 workers, has teamed up with the California Faculty Association and the California Federation of Teachers to form a committee opposing Proposition 1A. The ballot measure would limit state spending in good fiscal years, diverting money to a "rainy-day fund." But it also would extend $16 billion worth of temporary tax increases on sales, income and vehicles to 2013.
"Prop 1A won't be able to do what its supporters claim," said Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, in a statement. "This constitutional amendment, supported by the governor and legislators was developed with no public scrutiny and won't stop the budget chaos. Once voters read this proposal with their own eyes, they will see that it is flawed and overly complicated, and will give extraordinary new and unrestricted power to the governor and his political appointees, with no checks and balances."
State leaders included the temporary tax hike extensions in Proposition 1A in part to discourage groups like SEIU from fighting the measure at the ballot. By restraining public spending, the measure could limit the expansion of the public-sector jobs that the labor unions forming the committee represent.
The unions, in their Monday announcement, twice mentioned the $16 billion in tax hikes, which are considered to be the measure's greatest vulnerability among voters. Such labor groups find themselves unusual allies with anti-tax groups who typically fight union causes.
"This is disappointing since those who we hurt the most should Propositions 1A thru 1F not pass will be teachers, schools and the hard-working families of SEIU," said Julie Soderlund, spokeswoman for Budget Reform Now, proponents of the six budget-related ballot measures. "During these tough economic times, it is unfair to do anything that will likely cost many people their jobs."
It remains unclear how much SEIU plans to spend on the opposition effort, which will be a better indicator of whether they will succeed in defeating the ballot proposal. Proponents, including Schwarzenegger and the California Teachers Association, are raising millions of dollars in an effort to pass Proposition 1A and five other budget-related measures on the special election ballot.
Proposition 1A is tied to Proposition 1B, a separate proposal that requires the state to give schools additional total payments of $9.3 billion starting in 2011-12.
The California Federation of Teachers is a smaller union than CTA and represents 120,000 education employees. CFT supports Proposition 1B, despite the fact that it will fail unless Proposition 1A passes.
Schwarzenegger, during a press conference in Fresno to promote a health-care job training program, said he pays no attention to the opposition and believes "momentum is going our way."
April 13, 2009
Strange 1A fellows move their beds closer together
It's still not clear that the unions will spend money against Prop. 1A, despite Kevin Yamamura's report here that the SEIU, the California Federation of Teachers and the California Faculty Assn. have formed an opposition committee. But it would indeed be a perfect California marriage if the state's biggest public employee union and its anti-tax groups got together to kill this measure. The unions want to increase spending. The anti-tax groups want to reduce taxes. You can't do both, so one of them has to be wrong about the likely outcome of the political and fiscal crisis that defeating 1A would bring about. My hunch is that the union folks are gambling that they can win two-thirds majorities in the Legislature and seat a Democratic governor in 2010, then make the tax hikes permanent without having to worry about a spending limit. The anti-tax folks? The best they can hope for in the Legislature is continued stalemate, which probably means more borrowing and gimmicks. Or, on the ballot, a tougher spending limit not linked to taxes. The voters love that idea at first glance. But will they support it after the unions get down trashing it?
Posted by Daniel Weintraub | Weintraub is a member of the SacBee Editorial Board