Why Teachers Union is Desperate to Pass Prop. 55

K-12-spending-1California voters face a daunting challenge in November in that they’ll be asked to become familiar with a stunning 17 ballot measures. Some consultants fear that this will overwhelm many voters, who will choose either to vote no on everything or not vote on many initiatives.

But when it comes to Proposition 55, ignorance of its contents is not likely to be a problem for voters. The California Teachers Association and its allies are likely to spend $100 million or more on saturation TV and social media ads depicting the measure as crucial to the future of California public education.

Prop. 55 would extend for 12 years the temporary tax hikes on single people earning more than $263,000 and couples earning more than $526,000 that voters approved in 2012 (then at slightly lower income thresholds) as part of Proposition 30. Instead of sunsetting at the end of 2018, the income tax increase would continue through 2030. The $7 billion or more this is expected to generate annually would be earmarked for education. The temporary sales tax hike that voters also approved in 2012 will lapse at the end of this year.

Revenue recession took toll on teachers

prop 55 websiteThis month, the CTA wrote a $10 million check to the Yes on 55 campaign, which now has a $28 million warchest. The CTA and the smaller but still powerful California Federation of Teachers are likely to write several more checks that size to try to avoid the headaches that public school teachers faced from 2008 to 2012 during California’s long revenue recession.

While the “step” increases in pay that teachers typically receive in 15 of their first 20 years on the job were largely protected, strapped school districts didn’t grant additional across-the-board pay hikes that many provided during recent tech bubbles that pumped up capital gains revenue for the state. They also pushed for teachers to pay more toward their benefits and in some cases accept layoffs that extended beyond the newly hired to those with several years of experience.

As the Legislative Analyst’s Office graphic above shows, education spending has strongly rebounded since 2012, helped by a new boom in Silicon Valley and Proposition 30’s adoption that year. But the CTA and the CFT share Gov. Jerry Brown’sskepticism that the current good times can last. After first insisting that the temporary tax hikes must be allowed to expire because that’s what voters were promised, Brown has been far less vocal on the topic in the wake of new forecasts from his Department of Finance that state deficits are likely in coming years without retention of the income-tax hike.

Since state coffers are the main source of K-12 funding, Prop. 55’s approval is crucial to maintaining teachers’ pay and benefits. In most school districts, compensation eats up more than 80 percent of general fund budgets.

But Prop. 55’s route to passage may be rougher than Prop. 30’s in 2012. The Sacramento Bee editorial page has already saidthat support for extending the tax hikes should be explicitly linked to reforms in teacher tenure and to teacher unions’ support for state-subsidized childcare for poor families.

Some state lawmakers may also try to leverage their support for Prop. 55. Led by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, they are unhappy with how 2013’s Local Control Funding Formula has been implemented. The measure was supposed to pump billions of dollars in extra funding to districts with large numbers of English-language learners and foster children so they could provide help specifically for such students.

But three years in, education reform groups say that’s not happening, citing the absence of evidence of additional help for either category of student. Last year, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the local control dollars could be used broadly for general pay raises, overruling a lower-ranking official.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Teachers Union Hits Taxpayers with ‘Money Club’ Again

government-voteThe California Teachers Association has just dropped $10 million into its campaign to extend the “temporary” income tax hike voters approved when they passed Proposition 30 in 2012. Proposition 55, which will appear on this November’s ballot, would extend the highest income tax rates in all 50 states for another dozen years.

Four years ago, the muscular union, called by many in Sacramento the “Fourth Branch of Government,” spent over $11 million to convince voters to increase sales and income taxes. The campaign, paid for by government employee unions and led by Gov. Jerry Brown, repeatedly promised voters the higher taxes would last only a few years and then go away.

These ultra-high tax rates are scheduled to end in 2018 and union leaders are panicking. If the tax increase ends, there may be less money to fund increases in member pay and benefits.

Spending big money on politics is not unusual for the deep pocketed CTA which receives its funding from mandatory dues. Those dues, withheld from members’ paychecks whether they like it or not, can total more than $1000 a year for a single teacher. Recall that CTA laid out $58 million in opposing several worthy reform measures in a 2005 special election including one reform that would have capped state spending. Union leaders like a guaranteed cash flow so it should come as no surprise if they put out an additional $10 million, or more, to support the Proposition 55 income tax extension. For backers of Proposition 55, spending millions in return for billions of tax dollars is considered a bargain.

The campaign will, no doubt, target low information voters with messages about how, “it’s for the children.” It is standard operational procedure for tax promoters to use children as human shields when advancing a tax increase tied to education. Not to be mentioned is that the union’s interest is solely in increasing pay and benefits, including generous pensions, for members who are already paid more than $20,000 above the national average. And don’t forget that a national education union leader once famously said “when school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of children.”

Some will argue that ultra-high taxes should be maintained because public employees deserve to be well paid. They are. According the Department of Labor, California is the state with the best paid state and local government employees.

Our state is running a multi-billion-dollar surplus, yet Proposition 55 backers want to continue the ultra-high taxes that are already pushing businesses, and the jobs they provide, to relocate out of state. And it’s not just businesses. The list of high wealth individuals including professional athletes and entertainers who have bailed out of California is a mile long.

But the deleterious impact of high taxes is wholly lost on the union bosses. Their attention is, no doubt, on the latest news from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The second-largest U.S. public pension fund earned a paltry 1.4 percent return on investments in the fiscal year just ended, missing its target of 7.5 percent for the second straight year.  This raises questions about the fund’s management and whether or not it will be able to meet its obligation to 896,000 current and retired teachers.

Of course, taxpayers remain the guarantor of all public employee pensions so, in all fairness, the Proposition 55 income tax extension could come to be called the “pension tax.” And the teachers union is prepared to use its massive “money club” on voters to make sure Proposition 55 passes and the taxpayers’ dollars are there.

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.

Gun Control Ballot Measure Raises Direct Democracy Questions

Californian’s embrace of direct democracy continues to entrance those who want to legislate from the outside or to undo legislative actions. As explained in Laurel Rosenhall’s column Friday a bill intended to limit direct democracy has not reduced the number of measures that will appear on November’s ballot. Perhaps this is a result of circumstance — the lower signature count necessary to qualify measures or the decision of the legislature to crowd all initiatives on the General Election ballot.

The tools of direct democracy are available to those who want to set an agenda or to force the Legislature into action, or to reverse legislative action. I’m guilty of this myself both in being a proponent of initiatives that changed laws, and in the case of the workers comp initiative that never went before voters, a measure that pushed the legislature into action it probably would not have taken without the persuasive power of a coming, popular proposition.

The power to undo legislative action is a course I never participated in, which brings me to try and understand the strategy to refer to voters the six gun related bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

A referendum to halt a bill from becoming law must gather about 365,000 signatures in 90 days. That means 365,000 qualified signatures for each measure. To be sure the proponents net enough valid signatures they realistically need about 425,000 signatures. Each.

That means the proponents need over 2.5 million signatures in 90 days. Sure, a single gun advocate and registered voter would probably sign all six petitions but that is still a lot of signatures in a short time period. It won’t be done by volunteers alone. The process will be costly.

Which brings the question of strategy.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s gun measure, Proposition 63, is on the November ballot. True, the proposition is not identical in every way to the six bills signed by the governor, but close enough that the gun advocates want nothing to do with the bills or the initiative.

Funds will be needed to oppose the initiative. Would the funds be better spent opposing the initiative than funding the six-part petition drive?

The quandary for gun supporters is they face a two-front war.

It is doubtful that the referendums could qualify to appear on this November’s ballot, although that is probably the proponent’s goal. If enough signatures are gathered but miss the ballot, the bills are frozen until the voters have a say in the 2018 election.

If the gun supporters defeat the initiative but ignore the bills, the legislation still becomes law, even if an initiative defeat measures the sentiments of the electorate against the gun regulations.

If referendums are pursued and there are few resources left over to battle the initiative it could pass and become law.

If the referendums effort fails to qualify does that undermine the spirit to oppose Proposition 63?

If the referendums drive is successful in freezing the gun laws does that set a positive tone for Proposition 63 opponents?

And where will the money come from to do it all?

You can follow progress of the referendum effort on the Facebook page, Vetogunmageddon.

Joel Fox is editor of Fox & Hounds and president of the Small Business Action Committee.

This piec was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

10 Would-Be Initiatives Prep for November Ballot

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

They aren’t yet officially on the November ballot, but 10 would-be fall initiatives are being readied with healthy fundraising efforts.

In the weeks since the May 20 deadline to submit initiative signatures, the campaigns pushing the measures have reported collecting more than $3.2 million. The biggest recipient has been the campaign to increase cigarette taxes by $2 a pack, to $2.87, with Save Lives California raising more than $1.1 million.

Almost all of that came from the California State Council of Services Employees, which donated $1 million on May 31.

Backers of the sentencing reform measure initiated by Gov. Jerry Brown have raised more than $765,000 since May 20. The bulk of that came from the California Democratic Party, which gave $500,000 to Californians for Public Safety and Rehabilitation on Wednesday. …

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Ballot Measure: Docking Pay of Suspended CA Lawmakers

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

SACRAMENTO — California voters will decide in June whether to allow state lawmakers to revoke their colleagues’ pay following the Legislature’s 2014 ethics crisis that saw three senators put on leave as they faced felony allegations.

Proposition 50 is the only statewide measure on California’s June 7 ballot, but has drawn little attention and reaped no cash in support or opposition — in stark contrast to high-profile primary races this election cycle.

The proposal asks voters to amend the state constitution to give two-thirds of a chamber’s members the power to suspend their peers with or without pay. Its passage would signify voters approve of recent suspensions made under rules lawmakers wrote for themselves. …

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Kasich Drops Out; Trump Presumptive Nominee

As reported by Politico:

John Kasich is dropping his presidential bid, according to a senior campaign adviser, one day after Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee and Ted Cruz bowed out of the race.

The Ohio governor had long ago been mathematically eliminated from clinching the GOP nomination outright but had hoped to emerge as a consensus candidate at a contested convention.

Ultimately, Kasich outlasted nearly all of his rivals but can claim to have beaten few of them. He won only one contest — his home state of Ohio — during the primary season, and his final tally of 153 delegates puts him fourth in the race behind Marco Rubio, who dropped out in mid-March.

Kasich had said Tuesday night that he would keep fighting, but after Cruz suspended his campaign and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared Trump the presumptive nominee, Kasich apparently decided to end his bid. …

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CA U.S. Senate candidates quarrel over illegal immigration

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Democrats Loretta Sanchez and Kamala Harris, as they’ve campaigned for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat, have time and again advocated for a federal immigration overhaul – with Sanchez calling it a “moral imperative,” and Harris arguing it’s the civil rights issue of the current age.

There was little distance between the rivals’ broader immigration policy pronouncements at Monday night’s televised debate in Stockton, but there were clear differences on the finer points.

Sanchez, a congresswoman for nearly two decades, opted for the GOP-favorite phrase “family values” to assert families with mixed immigration status should not be separated. She blames Republicans for the morass.

Harris agreed that those in the shadows need a pathway to citizenship, yet she …

Trump leads poll in California, but shows regional weakness

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Buoyed by the support of many of the same Republicans who voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor in 2003, Donald Trump leads his challengers in California two months before the state’s presidential primary, according to a new Field Poll.

Yet support for Trump varies widely across the state, suggesting Ted Cruz – and perhaps John Kasich – could dilute a strong overall showing by the GOP frontrunner, dividing the state’s massive delegate haul.

The poll, released Thursday, comes two days after Trump’s loss to Cruz in the Wisconsin primary, amid intensified efforts from within the Republican Party to block Trump’s nomination. For the first time in decades, California’s late-arriving primary, on June 7, is expected to be critical.

Trump leads Cruz in California 39 percent to 32 percent among …

Trump Has Big Lead in New California Poll

In a new poll on the eve of two crucial primary votes in Ohio and Florida, Donald J. Trump has a commanding lead among Republicans in California, which is the state with the largest single remaining source of delegates on the path to the Party’s nomination for President.

When matched with his three other contenders: Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio, Trump wins the “closed” California Republican primary with 38.3%  of the GOP vote, compared to 22.4% for Cruz, 19.7% for Kasich, and 10.1% for Rubio.  Voters registering an “undecided” opinion were 9.6%.  Trump’s almost 16% advantage over Cruz is statistically significant and well above the margin of error of the poll, which is 4.8%.  The poll results demonstrate that Trump’s standing among Republicans in the Golden State has grown significantly in the last two months.  (In January, in a similar poll using a smaller sample size, the Field Organization pegged Ted Cruz as the leader in California, 25% to 23% for Trump.)  Trump’s lead is commanding in all four “Board of Equalization” districts across the state, suggesting if the election were held today, that he would win in virtually all of the state’s Congressional Districts and capture all of the state’s delegates.

Donald Trump

A total of 172 delegates to the Republican National Convention are up for grabs in the 2016 California primary election, more than 7% of all delegates who will decide the next Republican Presidential nominee, and 14% of the delegates needed to win the nomination.

The poll was commissioned by Landslide Communications.   This new Landslide Communication’s California Poll of Republican Presidential Preferences of likely Republican voters in the 2016 primary election is the second such poll to be released.  In early February, 2015, Landslide released a similar poll showing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading in the state, with similar results confirmed in a subsequent Field Organization poll a week later using a smaller sample size.

Poll Frequencies, NSON Opinion Research’s Summary, and Demographic Cross Tabs are available for download at the end of this article.

Further Details on Landslide’s California Poll appear below.

 California’s importance in 2016 Presidential election to Republicans:

California is a decidedly “blue” state in which Democratic Governor Jerry Brown recently won re-election by over one million votes, bucking a national trend that favored Republicans.  And a Republican candidate for President has not won the state of California since 1988.

However, because California is the largest state in the union by population, with 53 Congressional districts, California has a very large delegation up for grabs for GOP presidential contenders at the next Republican National Convention.

There will likely be a total of 2,461 delegates at the 2016 GOP Convention. California is allotted 172 of those delegates, about 7% of the total. Of California’s delegates, 10 are awarded to the candidate who wins the statewide vote. In addition, a candidate who finishes first in any one of California’s 53 Congressional districts is awarded 3 delegates. The state party chairman and two national committee members are also delegates.  The winning margin at the Republican National Convention will be 1,230 delegates. Theoretically, a candidate who could sweep California’s Republican Presidential primary election could count on the state to deliver just over 14% of the total delegates needed for victory.

List of Presidential contenders in poll:

Poll participants were read a randomized list of the 4 candidates to choose from.

Poll questions:

The poll questions were prepared by James V. Lacy, Managing Partner of Landslide Communications, Inc.  Landslide is one of the largest producers of election slate mail in California. Lacy is the author of the book “Taxifornia” and editor and contributing author of “Taxifornia 2016: 14 Essays on the Future of California” available at Amazon.com, and is a frequent guest commentator on California issues on Fox Business News Channel’s “Varney & Company.” Lacy is also an election law and nonprofit organization attorney through his law firm, Wewer & Lacy, LLP, and is a recipient of the American Association of Political Consultant’s “Pollie” Award. Lacy is not associated with any Presidential campaign. Landslide Communications, Inc., has a history of conducting polls in California, including presidential polling and in the 52nd Congressional District race in 2014 between incumbent Scott Peters and Republican challenger Carl DeMaio.

Interview list:

The list used to make the calls was based on a sophisticated, representative election turn-out model for likely Republican voters in the 2016 California Presidential primary election prepared by Political Data, Inc., located in Norwalk, a respected source of voter files.

To account for a slight bias in the delegate selection process that awards a small “bonus” pool of delegates based on the statewide result, the interview list was balanced for region by Board of Equalization District, with the two more Republican leaning BOE districts of four having marginally more interviews reflected in the statewide total than average, to most accurately reflect the opinion of California’s Republican population.

Interviews and data compilation:

The poll questions were completed by 407 likely Republican voters in the 2016 California Presidential primary election based on Political Data’s model. (The Landslide Communication’s sample size is 25% larger than the sample size used by the Field Organization for similar polling in California.)  The sample size is considered large enough by NSON Opinion Strategy, a respected strategic public opinion research company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, to offer statistical significance in outcome, with +/- 4.8% margin of error at a 95% confidence level statewide. Telephone survey interviews were conducted statewide over two days from Wednesday, March 9th through Thursday, March 10th, by NSON Opinion Strategy.

A summary of the poll prepared by NSON, along with “frequencies” and “crosstabs” may be downloaded below.

For comment, please contact James V. Lacy at 714-878-6191.

James V. Lacy is publisher of California Political Review.

CA Rep Pres Pri – Frequencies

16′ CA GOP Presidential Primary Poll (March)

CA Rep Pres Pri – Crosstab Tables

 

California’s June primary just became crucial in the race for the White House

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

California Republicans are about to experience an event many of them have never seen — a primary that could truly determine a presidential nomination.

Because Donald Trump lost Ohio’s primary on Tuesday night, ceding the state’s 66 delegates to  its governor, John Kasich, the race to get the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination seems unlikely to be settled before California votes on June 7.

Barring another big shift in the race, such as a decision by one of the three remaining candidates to drop out, the contest for California will be critical to the outcome. …

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