Todays word on the state of our state, our nation, and the world.
With budgets tight, old allies face off.
In May 2012, parents at Culver City’s El Marino Language School, located in heavily Democratic West Los Angeles, beat back an effort by the local chapter of the Association of Classified Employees (ACE) to unionize the school’s part-time teachers, many of whom were donating their time to teach foreign languages to elementary school kids. Public-sector unions across California are having the same kind of trouble. In a state beset with fiscal crises, unions are fighting over diminished local budgets—and Democrats must increasingly choose between satisfying old constituencies or maintaining public services…
In its battles with unions, the parent activists at El Marino Language School stumbled into what could become a central issue in California politics: the fracturing of the coalition between Democrats and their public-employee union allies…Benefit costs are squeezing local governments. Municipal bankruptcies in Vallejo, Stockton, San Bernardino, and Mammoth Lakes have exposed unsustainable “OPEB” (other post-employment benefits) costs such as health care. As the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers retires from public service, taxpayers face the prospect of governments becoming smaller and more expensive (when current and retiree payrolls are combined). Municipalities can’t afford to pay a current workforce with a growing “shadow” one. Cities are tapping general-fund dollars to cover pension costs.
The crisis has inspired some California “Democrats” to embrace public-sector pension reform… San Jose mayor Chuck Reed argues his case from the left. “Skyrocketing retirement costs are crowding out funding for essential public services,” he says. In Vallejo, recent city council elections have one retiring Democratic councilor wondering if public-sector union influence may put the recently bankrupt city back on the brink. “The Democratic Party has become too dependent on public safety unions to fund its political campaigns,” wrote Marti Brown in the Sacramento Bee. “Public employee political action committees are buying elections. Taxpayers pay for the salaries and benefits of public employees.”
25 April 2014Written by Pete Peterson, executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, and is a Republican candidate for California Secretary of State and Kevin Klowden, director of the California Center and managing economist at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica.