California State of Emergency Day One Reflections



Quote of the Day:
“I tell my boss, follow the teachers, they always know what’s right”–Legislative Aide

Day one was a good beginning in a longer campaign. This week we will be trying to get movement on the budget, to extend existing revenue streams (taxes we already pay) before they expire in June, causing our state budget to bleed red ink like a George Romero movie. The long game is one that CTA (and I) have tried to work on for a while, changing our governance, budget and revenue structure in the state to stop these persistent structural shortfalls.

The scenario is as follows, the Governor ran on the promise to put the tax extension to voters. An idea they like, and support. This required that he get a small handful of the minority party (Republicans), to approve putting it on the ballot. They have refused, and now, time has run out to get this on the ballot before the taxes expire. We are now asking they do a vote to extend the taxes solely thorough a legislative vote still requiring some minority votes (2 in each house). This is a bold and ambitious initiative, but the downside cannot be contemplated, with cuts in the billions of dollars looming ($15B altogether). Cuts to the tune of $12B have been made already, so this is not a revenue only solution.

Day one was about checking in with legislators. With allies, we thanked them, and confirmed their support. It was also about engaging with the minority members to get them to see what we regard as reason (and the opinion of their constituents). The allies are in our corner. Firmly, and they are folks who are leadership roles. In my group, we had a cordial discussion with one of the minority member’s staff. I’m looking at this as a multi-day effort. What is the difference between teachers going there, and the months of courting done by the Governor? Letting them see that for some of them, having an all cuts budget will not be acceptable to constituents and now is the time to “come to Jesus” and make a reasonable deal on the budget.

Joining our efforts, were some other groups, who felt that more confrontational efforts were necessary and decided upon occupation. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the arrests and what I saw, and I have to reply, I didn’t see anything, because I’m staying away from there.

These days, many of us in labor feel “we’re all Wisconsin”.  As a general sentiment this is a fine and good thing. But, this is California, and not Wisconsin. The rules for the Capitol are more “controlling” and there is a permitting process for rallies and other activities.

But, is this not a state of emergency? Are there times when we need to confront things head on. Yes, but I’m not sure that those tactics match the situation at hand. The fight in Wisconsin required that legislative action being pushed through at light speed be stopped. Immediately. Sit ins are a marvelous tool to not only bring attention, but to be a monkey wrench stopping the wheels from grinding on. What we are seeking is to “move” certain members of the minority to action, and to keep the support of the numerous allies we already have. I’m not sure those actions will get us there.

The folks involved in this seem sincere, and lord knows I understand their anger, frustration, and need to make a stand. I’m just not sure that’s what’s needed right here and right now.

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“California State of Emergency Day One Reflections”


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