Gov. Brown says one would ‘think’ Dems for disadvantaged

May 20. 2103

By Chris Reed

social_justiceOn Friday, I noted that the state budget scrum always involved a series of hardball power plays that exposed as fiction the idea that the California Democratic Party and the most powerful forces on the state’s political left stood for “social justice.”

The trigger for this observation were the reports that unions were staying silent about pushes to restore the cuts in social services disproportionately used by the poor and the needy. Why all this balking? All the public employee unions are entering contract negotiations. The leaders of the dominant faction of the party of “social justice” define social justice as more money for them.

Over the weekend saw another example of hardball power politics that reflected I’ve-got-mine attitudes, not a desire for social justice. The issue was Jerry Brown’s push to award slightly more money to schools that have high numbers of English-learner students. If you buy the widespread but very disputable theory that more money means better schools — as the social justice types almost always do — then a slight divergence of funds to struggling students is a no-brainer. Rich districts have more fat in rough times than poor districts. Poor kids need more help, etc.

When ‘social justice’ = bringing home the bacon

But that’s not what “social justice” means to Democrats from west Los Angeles County or the Bay Area or any district with a well-regarded school district or two. For these Democrats, suddenly social justice means bringing home the bacon, the Sac Bee reports:

Gov. Jerry Brown had hardly finished presenting his annual budget revision last week before state Sen. Ted Lieu lit up on Twitter with a burst of criticism of a major part of the plan, a bid to shift more state aid to poor and English-learning students.

‘Instead of working together to help all kids,’ said Lieu, D-Torrance, Brown’s funding formula ‘pits teacher against teacher, community against community, parent against parent.'”

Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Status Quo

The article goes on to note that skeptics include Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, and Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. More:

bizarro.jerry“In many ways, resistance to Brown’s proposal to overhaul California’s school financing system is a function of simple math.

“Though a majority of California’s more than 6 million schoolchildren live in urban and rural districts expected to benefit from Brown’s proposal, all but a handful of lawmakers who will vote on the measure represent at least one school district identified by the Department of Education as a potential loser. …

“Brown was on the defensive last week, laboring to ‘clarify some common misperceptions’ about his plan. He said the most controversial part of his proposal — to provide money to especially needy districts at the expense of wealthier ones— would amount to just 4 percent of total spending, with the rest distributed on a per-pupil basis partly to all students and partly to disadvantaged students statewide.

Gov’s idea — Dems help disadvantaged — meets reality

This is funny — the governor forced to downplay the cost of a model “social justice” proposal to win over Democratic lawmakers. Still, at least while doing so, Jerry Brown delivered a seemingly mild observation that actually amounts to a pointed zinger.

“Asked if he thought he had done enough to mollify resistant lawmakers, Brown said, ‘I think the idea in a Democratic Legislature of helping the less advantaged is very persuasive.'”

One would think. One would think. At least if one were dumb enough to still believe that California’s elected Democrats believe in the 1960s version of social justice, not the shabby modern iteration.

What I wrote a few years back about Sacramento remains as starkly true as ever:

“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.”

Representing just whose interests?

Is that what rank-and-file Democratic voters want?

Doubftul. Very doubtful.

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