Rants and Raves for Week of March 15th, 2010
Governor Schwarzenegger, who’s quickly become a regular on our rants list, said this week that he would not sign a bill passed by the Legislature to give tax relief to struggling homeowners and renewable energy companies because the bill would also increase the penalty on multi-million dollar corporations and the wealthiest Californians who blatantly cheat on their taxes. Protecting wealthy tax cheats at the expense of suffering families is a new low, even for this Governor.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman can hardly open her mouth without trashing state employees and threatening the jobs of tens of thousands of hard-working Californians. Her standard talking point is that state government is bloated and needs to be further cut. Unfortunately for Meg, her talking points have absolutely no basis in reality, according to new figures released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, California has the third lowest number of full-time state government employees relative to the population. California and Florida both had 103 state employees for every 10,000 residents, while Illinois had the lowest ratio at 97, the group reported. The U.S. average was 143 state employees per 10,000 residents, with California nearly 30 percent below the national average. Just more evidence that Meg’s plan to cut 40,000 state jobs would be disastrous for the state, further impacting the basic level of services California families expect in return for their tax dollars.
Talk about insult to injury. In addition to its proposal to shut down the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont and create a new wave of joblessness throughout the state, Toyota insisted in a recent severance agreement with the plant workers that their union must not publicly criticize the giant automaker for closing the plant. UAW Local 2244 leader Sergio Santos had this to say about the agreement: “While we are pleased that Toyota has increased its severance pay offer by millions of dollars, we are far from pleased that Toyota is going ahead and closing the plant where many of us have worked hard and faithfully giving Toyota the best years of our lives. Our skill has helped NUMMI repeatedly win JD Powers awards for quality, and has made Toyota the No. 1 automobile company in California and America…Toyota has betrayed us and now they have gagged us. We will be silent in the future, but we deserve better.”
The Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the health care reform bill this week, finding that the bill will cut the deficit by $1.3 trillion (yes, trillion) over the next 20 years, and would cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the population. It’s time for Congress to tune out the greedy insurers and their army of lobbyists and do the right thing for America’s families. It’s time to pass health care reform.
Congratulations to Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, who was appointed this week to chair the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. A longtime champion for working families who has a 100% voting record with Labor, Swanson serves as Labor Chair for the second time. Swanson was stripped of his position last March after standing firm for working families by opposing a spending cap in the state budget. This is a good sign that new Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez isn’t going to play politics as usual by penalizing members for voting their conscience on important issues. And a big thanks to outgoing Labor Committee Chair Bill Monning for his effective work on behalf of California families.
Kudos to Bill Powers, who was honored with the California Alliance for Retired Americans’ (CARA) Carino Award this week. After retirement, Bill joined CARA as a founding board member and became a fierce advocate on behalf of California’s seniors in the Capitol. Bill and his wife Gloria have worked tirelessly to make California a better place for seniors, people with disabilities, renters, workers and families. Thanks Bill, for all you’ve done and continue to do.