Things are about to get very interesting in Sacramento, where the public employees unions are dropping the mask...
The relationship between Democratic leaders and some of their labor benefactors has turned particularly frosty: Many of the programs union members rely on for paychecks -- and the unions rely on for dues -- have been slated for deep cuts.
For example, there are pledge forms being passed around to lawmakers by a major labor union that might have attracted takers in budget battles past. The union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wants the legislators to sign statements of support for up to $44 billion in new or higher taxes on the wealthy, oil companies, tobacco and other industries, products and people....so today, the labor-sponsored politicians are reading the - forgive me - tea leaves and pushing back.
But so far the drive hasn't produced a single signed form, even from the Democrats who normally march into California's budget fights in lock-step with organized labor.
"Many public employee unions, teacher unions [are] thinking that they were thrown under the bus in the last budget," said Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D- Montebello). "So now they're asking themselves: If these Democrats are not going to stand up for us, then what good is it to have them there?"When you hear 'reformers' explain that we need to abolish the supermajority for budget and tax approval, remember these words.
The union leaders say they are appalled that Democratic leaders are talking openly now about decimating government programs without first making a stand for bigger, broader tax hikes that could substantially offset budget cuts.
"Democrats came to Sacramento to help people," said Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers. "I know they did not go there to destroy government. For some reason, they are unwilling to stand up and say 'This is not what I was elected for.' "
But even some of the most liberal Democrats say some union leaders are ignoring the reality of an angry public, a sour economy and a state government approaching insolvency. Moreover, more taxes would require Republican support in the Legislature, and the minority party has made clear that there will be none.
In part, this is interesting fallout from the failure of the budget propositions. Then there were differing interpretations of why they had failed: the conservatives said it was the new taxes, the liberals said it was the spending limits. I thought we'd know the truth pretty quickly, and from this article, it seems we do.