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California Deficit: Controlling the unions may be the key to budget problems...

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that California’s largest unions, the Service Employees International Union is urging legislators to raise taxes.

“SEIU: 'Yes we can' raise taxes”

“With a new crop of state lawmakers being sworn in later today, the state council of one of California's biggest unions has launched an ad campaign featuring President-elect Barack Obama and urged new revenues to balance the state budget.”

“With clips of Obama's election night acceptance speech in the background, the screen in the TV ad flashes with the words ‘small change won't fill a massive deficit.’

Hard truths …

“California faces an estimated $27.8 billion budget deficit over the next year and a half.”

"To our new legislators, we offer our congratulations," said Courtni Pugh, executive director of the SEIU California State Council in a statement.”

And even harder truths …

It is no secret that unions have been, for years, plagued by a self-serving and corrupt leadership. One need only to read my previous blog entry

Unions: Ever wonder what they are doing with their funds when not seeking to buy political influence and change the course of elections? (Updated)

to see what some union leaders are doing with their member’s money.

The SEIU Dream budget ...

According to the Sacramento Bee ...

"With lawmakers at an impasse over the state budget, the SEIU State Council, which represents state workers, took it upon itself to propose its own dream plan Tuesday. And we mean dream in the politest of terms, as in it might happen in a parallel universe where Democrats don't need any Republican votes and federal dollars pour from the sky."

"First off, it includes no cuts. It then raises taxes by $14.2 billion through June 2010. The plan proposes a targeted increase in the state's vehicle-license fee that hits only vehicles worth more than $20,000. It also increases taxes on households making above $250,000 a year, imposes a tax on oil production, increases alcohol taxes and broadens the sales tax to include entertainment. The SEIU budget finally raises a remaining $15 billion through a federal bailout, including a $10 billion payment in 2009-10." <Source>

Somewhere, possibly over the rainbow, the SEIU has overlooked the salient fact: that legislators must cut spending below our actual revenue in order to whittle down the current deficit and to re-build our contingency funds. Spending on special interests such as unions must be severely curtailed. Ditto, the spending on illegal alien support services. And, by the way, we need to reform our budgetary policy and adopt a real-world policy of speaking the truth. No more describing cuts in budgetary projects as tax cuts -- especially when the total overall spending is being increased beyond all reasonable expectation or public need. 

Some unions are totally out of control …

Many unions appear to be detrimental to the welfare of the citizens of California, especially the educational unions. With declining enrollment, poor academic performance and an abnormally high ratio of administrators to teachers, the educational unions have squandered a sterling opportunity to make a difference in California. With almost half California’s budget going for education, one would think that the results would be far different than they are.

Idiotic ideas such as dropping phonics in favor of the specious “whole language initiative” or the institution of “feel-good” mathematics in which self-esteem issues are valued higher than the correct answer, have produced a generation of functional illiterates. And the unions have tacitly endorsed the concept of school as a daycare center for working adults and are openly promoting mass mediocrity over individual achievement.

Especially with contractual work rules honoring seniority, restricting competency testing of teachers, awarding large salary increases for additional educational achievements – even if those educational achievements do not serve the children at the grade level being taught. The idea that we should reward someone for having a Master’s degree while teaching second grade is absurd.

A searchable database …

In an effort to provide more transparency to the state’s burgeoning payroll, the Sacramento Bee has implemented a searchable database which can be used to see individual state employee’s compensation. Of course, one of the first objection came from the unions.

“A Sacramento newspaper has come under fire for publishing information on California state workers. Names, salaries, job classifications and work locations have been made available through a searchable database on the newspaper's Web site.”

“The issue of most concern has been the privacy of state employees. By including the names and work locations of the workers, claim some, such a database could jeopardize the safety of individuals whose information is made available.”

“Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 President Jim Hard and California State Employees Association (CSEA) President Dave Hart met with the Sacramento Bee's editorial staff last week.”

“Following the meeting, Hard said The Bee was not receptive to removing names, even when a state workers' safety is an issue.” <Source>

Visit the California Employees Searchable Database.

A similar database covering the Los Angeles Unified School District was also placed online by the Los Angeles Daily News. Want to see the truth about what teachers really earn, simply select a category and click the search button.

Visit the Los Angeles Unified School District Searchable Database.

Fair is fair …

There is no reason why and non-emergency public and government employees should be protected from job loss and suffering the consequences the same as every other worker in the private sector. Especially in times of great economic difficulty.

Who’s to blame?

Much of California’s deficit was created by our legislators as they pandered to the unions and other special interests. Only pretending to negotiate tough union contracts, especially when there was an inherent conflict of interest created by the need for political funds and support from the very people they sought to regulate.

It is not coincidental that much of California’s deficit was spent providing social services and support to illegal aliens – courtesy of a legislature which sometimes acted like an arm of the Mexico’s socialist government.

Profligate spending in times of declining revenues caused the problem. The man we elected to curtail government spending and bring fiscal control to an out-of-control legislature – the man who replaced failed Governor Gray Davis after he hiked our car registration fees by 300%, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has also failed to perform. His performance as a movie star eclipsed his performance as a governor as he sought universal adoration for his “pronouncements.”

What can YOU do?

It is time to curb the growing power of left-leaning unions who are steadily replacing the civil service procedure with a malevolent force that can potentially shut down cities and wreak havoc on the population. Remember, it is often not the hard-working union rank and file that is the problem, it is their leadership which seeks to manipulate the system into paying higher-and-higher wages and benefits – apparently for their own self-serving purposes of growing their political power and the size of their controlled pension and welfare funds.

Demand that the union cease exploiting their own membership by openly courting and admitting illegal aliens into the union.

Demand that the unions accept their fair share of budgetary cuts on behalf of their membership and eliminate some of the wasteful work rules that may be currently in place.

Urge your elected officials to re-negotiate union contracts to reflect the realities of our hard economic times.

The union-crafted message that times are so tough that teachers must purchase classroom supplies at their own expense has been made true by contracting practices condoned by the legislature and school boards which push the price of a single pencil to that of a Cross Pen.

One need only consider that Los Angeles spent approximately the cost of three high schools building a modern art monstrosity to soothe the ego of a local, politically influential, billionaire. See my blog entry: LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS -- WHY ARE THEY ASKING FOR MORE MONEY? You would have thought that the unions would have had more to say on the subject.

When voting for school board members, avoid the ones that spend over $1 million on their campaigns. These are the ones who do it for ego or as a stepping stone for higher office: both poor reasons to elect legislators and other officials.

Above all, remember that government workers do not work in coal mines, on the auto assembly lines and in places where safety is a real issue and unions can have a beneficial effect. They sit in office cubicles reading their newspapers, surfing the Internet and drinking coffee while the rest of the world labors producing tangible goods and services.

-- steve

Quote of the day:  “Committee--a group of men who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done.” - Fred Allen

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Capitol Alert: SEIU: 'Yes we can' raise taxes

“Nullius in verba”-- take nobody's word for it!
"Acta non verba" -- actions not words

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS