"The Stockton Syndrome"  Underfunded Pensions

"The Stockton Syndrome" Underfunded Pensions

California laws granting immense union monopoly power to union officials is creating cracks, fissures, and collapse across the state.  One manifestation of the growing problem is a pension crisis coming to a head as the city of Stockton faces pending bankruptcy. The Investor Business Daily notes: As one California city slogs toward bankruptcy, others may soon try to avoid the same fate by passing pension reforms — that is, if a pro-union state government will let them. The financial problems plaguing many of the nation's [Big Labor Boss-run] cities are taking a particularly heavy toll on Stockton, Calif., a blue-collar port city that struggles even in good times. Stockton is also a cautionary tale on how not to run a city. It seems to have committed just about every fiscal sin known to local government.In those infrequent years when things were good, it spent (and promised) like there was no tomorrow. Now tomorrow has come, and the city is broke. Its spiffy sports arena and its new $35 million high-rise city hall won't help it pay its debt. That debt includes, but is not limited to, a $400 million liability for its retirees' health care. It also has had to cut its police force by almost a third.

Big Labor Lobbyist Dominate CA Legislative Agendas

Big Labor Lobbyist Dominate CA Legislative Agendas

Brian Calle of the Orange County Register took notice when California's lobbying reports revealed that the biggest special interest in the Golden State is big labor.  Specifically, the California Teacher's Association (read: Union) spent more money on lobbying than anyone else in the state.  The President Obama says Big Labor is not a special interest.  The facts show otherwise: Lobbying, unsurprisingly, is commonplace and aggressive in U.S. state capitals and in Washington, D.C. Special interests and their paid representatives flock to legislators and bureaucrats, seeking favors, like pigs rushing to a full trough. The problem at the state and municipal level is that too many treasuries are depleted, and to refill the troughs special interests urge policymakers to find or enhance “revenue sources” – a euphemism for new or higher taxes. In Sacramento, the California Teachers Association, the state's behemoth education union, spent more money on lobbying in 2011 than any other group in the Golden State, according a Los Angeles Times analysis of data from the California Secretary of State's Office. The CTA, boasting 340,000 members, spent $6,574,257 last year, a lobbying tab more than $1.5 million greater than the second-place spender (unsurprisingly, another union), the California State Council of Service Employees, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest and most powerful labor outfits in North America.

Union's Keep Pushing Taxes Higher in California

Who can forget the Chicago Teachers Union Activist above, but that attitude does not seem to be exclusive to Illinois.  California Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing a new scheme to force tax increases on the taxpayers in the Golden State and not surprisingly, it is the teacher's union pushing the plan behind the curtain?  From the OCRegister: Gov. Jerry Brown says the odds improved last week that voters will approve tax increases in November because he and the California Federation of Teachers merged their separate tax-raising schemes into one. This was not a compromise. Mr. Brown caved in to union pressure. Public employee unions were major financial backers of the governor's 2010 election campaign. In seeking huge tax increases to pay for government spending, he is doing unions' bidding. By merging initiatives, Mr. Brown agreed to reduce the increase he sought in the sales tax from a half cent to a quarter cent. But he agreed to seek a larger income-tax increase tax on more-affluent taxpayers. The new initiative would raise the top tax rate by 1 percent for those earning $250,000, 2 percent for incomes exceeding $300,000 and 3 percent on $500,000 and more. The state's top rate already is 10.3 percent, for those earning $1 million a year. The combined initiative is projected to raise $9 billion compared with the $7 billion the governor previously proposed. The tax increases would last seven years, rather than the previous five years.

Union's Keep Pushing Taxes Higher in California

Who can forget the Chicago Teachers Union Activist above, but that attitude does not seem to be exclusive to Illinois.  California Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing a new scheme to force tax increases on the taxpayers in the Golden State and not surprisingly, it is the teacher's union pushing the plan behind the curtain?  From the OCRegister: Gov. Jerry Brown says the odds improved last week that voters will approve tax increases in November because he and the California Federation of Teachers merged their separate tax-raising schemes into one. This was not a compromise. Mr. Brown caved in to union pressure. Public employee unions were major financial backers of the governor's 2010 election campaign. In seeking huge tax increases to pay for government spending, he is doing unions' bidding. By merging initiatives, Mr. Brown agreed to reduce the increase he sought in the sales tax from a half cent to a quarter cent. But he agreed to seek a larger income-tax increase tax on more-affluent taxpayers. The new initiative would raise the top tax rate by 1 percent for those earning $250,000, 2 percent for incomes exceeding $300,000 and 3 percent on $500,000 and more. The state's top rate already is 10.3 percent, for those earning $1 million a year. The combined initiative is projected to raise $9 billion compared with the $7 billion the governor previously proposed. The tax increases would last seven years, rather than the previous five years.

Seattle's Teacher's Unions Oust Best and Brightest

Seattle's Teacher's Unions Oust Best and Brightest

While teacher's unions in California and New York have made it impossible to fire teachers -- including those accused of sexual abuse -- the teacher's union in Washington State sought to get rid of six teacher's who were awarded for their excellence.  The California Political Review has the story: Last week, I wrote about the particularly egregious case of a teacher in Rochester, NY who sent sexually charged emails to her principal and was subsequently jailed for ignoring a restraining order. Upon her release, she returned to the classroom, and in short order was accused of fondling her middle school students. But due to her union’s pressure tactics, the school board cannot get rid of this tenured teacher. Across the country in Seattle, we now have a situation where it would appear that the local teachers union may have success in getting six teachers removed from the district. Pedophiles? Of course not. They are talented Teach For America teachers who have received good reviews from their principals. In what could be a new low for teachers unions – and that’s really saying something – it would appear that through heavy pressure from the Seattle Education Association, the Seattle School Board may terminate the contracts of the six teachers for absolutely no good reason. Founded in 1990 by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp, TFA chooses the best and the brightest – only one in eight are accepted into the program – and trains them to work in the nation’s worst schools. These committed and enthusiastic college graduates get five weeks of teacher training, ongoing support once in the classroom, and must commit to teach for two years. The program has been very successful. But there is an anti-TFA animus among those for whom the status quo is next to godliness. The “problem” with TFA teachers is that they tend to be very idealistic and don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold that teacher unions so need and insist on. TFA teachers really care about teaching and frequently can’t abide the straitjacket rules inherent in every union contract. On its website, SEA does its best to “inform” the public by posting nine reasons to oppose Teach for America’s intrusion into Seattle Public Schools.

Seattle's Teacher's Unions Oust Best and Brightest

Seattle's Teacher's Unions Oust Best and Brightest

While teacher's unions in California and New York have made it impossible to fire teachers -- including those accused of sexual abuse -- the teacher's union in Washington State sought to get rid of six teacher's who were awarded for their excellence.  The California Political Review has the story: Last week, I wrote about the particularly egregious case of a teacher in Rochester, NY who sent sexually charged emails to her principal and was subsequently jailed for ignoring a restraining order. Upon her release, she returned to the classroom, and in short order was accused of fondling her middle school students. But due to her union’s pressure tactics, the school board cannot get rid of this tenured teacher. Across the country in Seattle, we now have a situation where it would appear that the local teachers union may have success in getting six teachers removed from the district. Pedophiles? Of course not. They are talented Teach For America teachers who have received good reviews from their principals. In what could be a new low for teachers unions – and that’s really saying something – it would appear that through heavy pressure from the Seattle Education Association, the Seattle School Board may terminate the contracts of the six teachers for absolutely no good reason. Founded in 1990 by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp, TFA chooses the best and the brightest – only one in eight are accepted into the program – and trains them to work in the nation’s worst schools. These committed and enthusiastic college graduates get five weeks of teacher training, ongoing support once in the classroom, and must commit to teach for two years. The program has been very successful. But there is an anti-TFA animus among those for whom the status quo is next to godliness. The “problem” with TFA teachers is that they tend to be very idealistic and don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold that teacher unions so need and insist on. TFA teachers really care about teaching and frequently can’t abide the straitjacket rules inherent in every union contract. On its website, SEA does its best to “inform” the public by posting nine reasons to oppose Teach for America’s intrusion into Seattle Public Schools.