By: Bob Williams, President, State Budget Solutions
California government workers cinched their stranglehold on state taxpayers even tighter last Tuesday in defeating a proposition to ban compulsory business and union political contributions while approving a “temporary” tax increase alleged to pay for education. The largest, richest teachers’ union proclaimed the election “A Sweep!”
In both cases, the margin of victory fell well below the number of state and local workers in California, effectively giving about 10 percent of the voting-eligible population extortion powers over taxpayers.
The two propositions, Propositions 30 and 32, received tens of millions of dollars in union support, which is ironic because Proposition 32 sought to ban corporations and unions from contributing any money withheld from workers’ paychecks to elections.
Proposition 30 just guaranteed additional taxpayer money will go into union coffers by taking at least $50 billion more out of the California economy. The measure increases income tax on those earning $250,000 or more a year for seven years, and ups the regressive sales tax ¼ cent for four years.
California already has the highest personal income tax rate and debt in the nation, and fourth highest overall state and local tax burden. Its combined state and average local sales tax already is the 12th highest, and this measure increases it by almost 3.5 percent. Anyone who thinks these tax hikes really are going to be temporary should invest with Bernie Madoff.
Prop 30 won by 720,000 votes. There are more than 2 million state and local employees in California, including more than 325,000 teachers in the California Teachers Association (CTA), which proclaimed “A Sweep!” in passing 30 and defeating 32.
CTA kicked in on the $40 million used to push Prop 30 through.
The union also pumped at least $22 million into fierce opposition to Prop 32. That’s not much, considering the biggest teachers union in the state can use government to take about $300 million a year out of workers paychecks and, without their permission, use it for political purposes.
California Federation of Teachers and other district-specific teachers unions have a combined annual income of $71 million obtained in the same way.
About 94 percent of CTA contributions go to the Democratic Party.
Prop 32 lost by a little more than a million votes, about 12 percent of total cast on the question, and less than half the number of state and local government employees.
So government workers represent more than three times the number needed to pass Prop 30 and double the number needed to defeat Prop 32.
It is amazing they didn’t pass by even bigger majorities because the teachers and other government employees have plenty of allies.
According to latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in a state where about 2.5 million workers –18.2 percent of wage and salary employees and almost 11 percent of the voting-eligible population — are represented by unions, getting a margin of less than 1 percent of total votes cast is no problem when seizing billions of dollars of taxpayer money over a decade is at stake.
According to the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, California had, as of 2011, the latest full year available, almost 438,330 state workers and about 1.6 million local government workers.
Including federal workers in the state, the total government workforce is about 2.3 million, equivalent to 22 percent of total votes case on each proposition Tuesday.
The latest BLS Union Membership survey found 2.5 million wage and salary workers are represented by unions.
Even though union representation has dropped from almost 22 percent in 1989 to 17 percent last year, California remains a bastion of union power compared to the average national rate of 12 percent.
If that actually improved the lot of working people or served to provide better government, it would be fine. But reality proves it does neither. All it does is entrench a privileged elite that seeks only to increase power and enrich itself through abuse of government power and the democratic process.
Benjamin Franklin reportedly warned when our republic was founded that we could keep it “until the people find that they can vote themselves money.”
What he didn’t realize is that it wouldn’t take all the people discovering that scam. In
California, it only takes about 10 percent of those eligible to vote.
This perversion of democracy eventually must permanently bankrupt The Golden State. The 90 percent must prevent that by organizing, educating and pushing reform continuously between elections or end up permanent vassals to the 10 percent, a wealthy new aristocracy that is supposed to serve them.