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Contributor

John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing the 35th District in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

Much Ado About Nothing
Squawking Sacramento liberals...
[John Campbell] 3/14/05

Much ado about nothing: I was in a hearing yesterday in which the Democrats on the committee were pounding on the Schwarzenegger administration for producing what is called a video news release which they said was "taxpayer funded propaganda" intended to persuade people of the efficacy of some of the administration's proposed labor regulations. Those are regulations related to a state law requirement that employers provide employees with a lunch break. The proposed regulations would allow that lunch break to be taken anytime in the day with the approval of the employee, rather than mandated in the first 5 working hours. This enables people to work through their lunch hour, if they choose to, in order to leave work earlier to attend a child's soccer game or to be there for family. The video simply pointed this out.

But the committee chair railed that this video cost $1,262 to produce and that it was advocating the administration's position rather than presenting a neutral viewpoint. Duh. This was a video press release and that's what press releases do. Never mind that we in the legislature do this exact same thing with taxpayer funds all the time. Never mind that there are two TV studios and a radio studio in the capitol which exist for the precise purpose of allowing members of the legislature to make videos advocating their side of issues. The argument that what the administration did here is illegal or unethical is absurd. And if it were either, that standard should be applied equally to the legislature to prevent us from doing videos to communicate our positions at taxpayer expense.

So, what is really going on here?

The labor unions hate these new regulations. Under current law, labor unions can negotiate these flexibilities in their union contracts. They do not want employees who are not union members to have the same option. They cannot win their case on the merits. So, they have dreamed up this sham argument to try and get the Governor to back off on the proposed regulations. And of course, Democrats are always available to argue for whatever the labor union bosses want.

The Governor is doing the right thing for the 85% of workers in this state who are not required to pay union dues as a condition of keeping their job. He should not back down because of specious claims. And he won't.

The Other Side of the Coin: I must say, it was unusual to see Democrats here becoming so worked up over $1,200 when they fail to mention the $4 million spent on the UC Labor Institute, which uses taxpayer money to train organized labor on how to advocate their causes. Perhaps this is a new era of Democrat fiscal conservatism. But don’t count on it.

Education Funding: Many parents in Orange County are concerned about the level of education funding. Some are opposing the Governor's proposal to increase education funding by 7.1% because they think we should spend more. Spending more, I have heard from many of them, will enable schools to keep their art and music and sports programs.

Well, not if the California School Employees Union has their way. You see, they have proposed legislation (AB 310 - Umberg (D) - Santa Ana) which would raise their union member's pensions by 25%. Yes. You read that correctly. At a time when ridiculously generous pensions are threatening schools and cities and the entire state, they are proposing a 25% increase in their pensions.

What is the message here? If we get more money, it won't go to educate your kids. Even your art and music programs are on the bubble every year because the additional money is channeled to unions and bureaucrats. That's why more and more money has resulted in schools having less and less. We don't need more money to line the pockets of the unions. We need reform so that the money we have will be educating our kids. CRO

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