On first blush, the latest effort by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators to give public-employee unions access to public agencies to hold “orientation” seminars with new hires is an unfair special privilege not normally provided to private groups. It’s even more disturbing that the legislation authorizing such access is being rammed through the Legislature in a secretive manner without the full hearing and vetting process.
But critics of this brazen example of union muscle-flexing should take heed. It’s the latest reminder that even public-employee unions understand that the world is about to change. It’s only a matter of time before they lose a key to their enduring power: the current system by which public employees are forced to pay dues to their respective unions, even if they have no desire to give a large chunk of their paychecks to these unions.
Four years ago, Los Angeles’ elected officials wrested major financial concessions from the Department of Water and Power’s biggest and most powerful employee union, persuading those workers to go three years without raises. City budget officials billed the agreement as a road map for negotiations with its other employee groups. Soon afterward, several other unions agreed to postpone pay increases for one or more years. Now a new salary package, backed by Mayor Eric Garcetti and heading to the City Council next week, would give six raises in five years to thousands of DWP workers. That could spur other unions to seek a similar deal, placing new burdens on a city budget already under significant stress.
All California’s agencies conduct important work that protects and provides for the public, and all are held accountable to the people by conducting the SRIA. Cal/OSHA’s process is not different and does not warrant a special exemption. SB 772 excuses Cal/OSHA from this important analysis, allowing regulations having a significant impact on the economy to avoid the close scrutiny that would reveal their true costs and any unintended consequences.
The bill’s proponents suggest that the cost and benefit analysis of a regulation is completely satisfied by the debate in the Legislature, advisory meetings, and the public notice and comment process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). This is not true – The regular rulemaking process does not adequately address economic impacts and alternative policy approaches.
As we noted when California inaugurated this policy, American federalism is based on the agreement that different states can pursue different policies (within Constitutional bounds) while retaining equal status within the union. California’s decision to escalate the culture war with “sanctions” against states with different political orientations represents a direct challenge to America’s federal structure.
This new order could have a major symbolic impact—for example, by making it difficult or impossible for University of California sports teams to compete against the University of Texas. And could lead to retaliatory measures by the targeted red states: They could, for example, up the ante not only by enacting reciprocal travel bans but also by refusing to cooperate with California’s government in criminal investigations, declining to share tax data, or prohibiting companies from selling products to California’s state government.
How long before a coalition of liberal states begins to collectively and systematically impose sanctions on conservative ones, or vice versa? To state the obvious: This has nothing to do with the legitimate democratic debate over the merits of the policies California is trying to sanction in the first place. Maybe some of these policies are reasonable compromises between LGBT rights and religious liberty; maybe others are unacceptable forms of discrimination. These are debates that need to be resolved by the courts, by federal civil rights agencies, and by the voters in those states. California’s brazen offensive dangerously short-circuits this process.
Illinois is grappling with a full-fledged financial crisis and not even the lottery is safe – with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner warning the state is entering "banana republic" territory. Facing billions in unpaid bills and pension obligations, the state is hitting a cash crunch that is rare even by Illinois standards. . . . But the problems are years in the making, caused in large in part by the state’s poorly funded pension system— which led Moody’s Investors Services to downgrade the credit rating to the lowest of any state. The state currently has $130 billion in unfunded pension obligations, and a backlog of unpaid bills worth $13 billion.