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Who Shall Be Master?
Union bosses and tax and spenders win…

[by Jon Coupal] 11/16/05

Voter rejection of special election Propositions 75, 76 and 77 is especially bad news for taxpayers. The big winners were government employee union bosses who will continue to exercise unbridled power over their members as well as the state budget process. The second biggest winner is the tax-and-spend majority in the Legislature whose reelection is now assured.

Union leaders spent over $100 million to defeat measures that would have required them to get permission before taking union members' money for political purposes, that would have put mild limits on increases in state spending, and that would have created more competitive districts for elected officials.

Jon Coupal

Jon Coupal is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go to Coupal index]

Not since the campaign against Proposition 13 have we seen so many dollars spent to broadcast so many lies about ballot measures.

Here again we saw government worker unions stepping forward as a militant special interest intent on protecting and expanding their power over the public purse. Add to this elected officials, panicked over the possibility of having to run for reelection in competitive districts, and you have a toxic mix that managed to poison all reform measures on the special election ballot.

One piece of direct mail aimed at Republican voters, but financed primarily by Democrats, appeared to be a jury summons. Inside, it told the reader to vote for all the governor's reform measures except Proposition 77, which would have changed the way political districts are drawn. On television, negative ads focused on the fact that the lines would be drawn by retired judges, but never once said that final approval would be made by the voters.

One of the strangest ads was on radio against Proposition 75, which would have required public employee unions to get permission before taking members' money to be spent on politics. The ad was sponsored by a private sector union that would not have been covered by Proposition 75. It urged voters to read the fine print because there might be something in the measure that would have an adverse effect on all unions. They had to use the word "might" because there was nothing there in the fine print.

Deception by opponents of reform actually began with Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who is responsible for writing the ballot title and summary for each initiative.

Lockyer is well-remembered by taxpayers for writing a summary for Proposition 39 -- a measure that made it easier to increase property taxes for school bonds -- that "forgot" to mention that it reduced the two-thirds vote requirement that was then in effect. Barely noticed by the press at that time was the fact that Lockyer was a member of the committee sponsoring Proposition 39.

For Proposition 76, a measure that would have placed mild limits on spending, his summary implied that schools would suffer if the measure passed. At the time he prepared his summary, Lockyer was actively considering a run for governor against the measure's sponsor, our current governor.

But now that the special election is over, taxpayers must move on. For taxpayers the challenge remains to fight off the constant barrage of anti-Proposition 13 legislation in the capitol and the tax increase initiatives backed by the government worker unions, while trying to gather strength to advance the taxpayers' agenda. This includes reducing the tax burden for those struggling to keep a roof over their heads and protecting homeowners from abuse by officials who use eminent domain to seize private property for the purpose of increasing income to government. This has become an urgent matter because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that confirmed the right of government agencies to seize private property so it can be turned over to other private interests.

If California taxpayers fail to defend their interests, the consequences will be dire.

Years ago, government workers were called public servants. Even though there are still many hardworking public employees who deserve our respect, if the union bosses continue to get their way it could soon be the taxpayers who are called "servants." CRO

Jon Coupal is an attorney and President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

copyright 2005 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association



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