CA budget: State’s unions tell poor they’re on their own

by CalWatchdog Staff | May 17, 2013 6:15 am

employeeunionsMay 17, 2013

By Chris Reed

Nothing brings clarity to the absurdity of unions’ claims that they defend the poor and champion social justice than the annual fights over the state budget. Advocates of social services for the poor and needy are up in arms that Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised 2013-2014 budget doesn’t restore cuts. But state unions, most of which are in salary negotiations with Brown, aren’t backing them up. This San Jose Mercury-News story[1] lays out the complaints:

“Democratic legislators and liberal advocacy groups signaled Wednesday they are ready to fight to restore safety net programs devastated by years of cuts, a day after Gov. Jerry Brown emphasized a sober economic outlook in a revised budget that leaves little room for improving the lot of the poor.

“Brown vowed to spend within the state’s means, proclaiming he is the ‘backstop’ to the ‘big spending machine’ of interest groups and liberal legislators sure to bang on his door for help.

“Brown scaled down hopes with a $96.4 billion budget that was $1.3 billion smaller than he’d proposed in January, saying that federal ‘sequestration’ cuts, lower wages and a hike in Social Security taxes had quelled economic growth.

“But advocates for the poor and disabled argue that a $1.1 billion rainy-day reserve and Brown’s plan to repay certain state debts may not be appropriate during a time when many people are still suffering the effects of the Great Recession.”


Nowhere in the Merc-News story or in any similar coverage do you see the CTA or CFT or AFSCME speak up for the poor. It’s not their priority.

And this is true in every economic circumstance. This is from what I wrote[2] last year:

“When times are bad, unions pressure Democrats to always make social services for the poor be the first target of budget cutting, preserving public employee compensation by any means possible.

“When times are good, they pressure Democrats to save extra revenue for them. In the revenue boom that lasted from 2003-2007, social services spending went up by barely the rate of inflation, while spending on schools (teacher unions) and prisons (guard unions) went up at least four times as fast.”

Union power: It’s 24/7/365, whether in recessions or booms, and it’s always about union members’ compensation and job protections and little else. Dems may believe in social justice, but for their most powerful faction, such rhetoric amounts to a convenient smokescreen.

  1. San Jose Mercury-News story:
  2. what I wrote:

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