January 15, 2021

Here’s something Assembly Members Luz Rivas, David Chiu, Richard Bloom and Buffy Wicks don’t want their constituents to know:

  • Start at https://www.calhr.ca.gov/labor-relations/Pages/Unit-06-Corrections.aspx, where you will see a list of 21 “Bargaining Units” that represent state employees who get paid billions of dollars per year upon the approval of state legislators and the governor. The most expensive is Unit 6, Corrections.
  • Next, go to http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1035434&session=2019&view=contributions, where you will see the political donations made by CCPOA, an employee enterprise that represents prison guards. Recipients include Assembly Members Rivas, Chiu, Bloom and Wicks.
  • With the approval of Assembly Members Rivas, Chiu, Bloom and Wicks and other members of the Legislature, the state spends $10b per year on prison employee compensation and benefits. That’s 5x the revenues of the largest private prison corporation, 5x the amount the Legislature allocates annually to the Judicial Branch, and 2.5x the amounts for UC and CSU.
  • At the same time, Assembly Members Rivas, Chiu, Bloom and Wicks and other legislators are accepting political contributions from the recipients of that $10b of spending. Does that seem right to you? Legislators also accept donations from enterprises such as DaVita and Fresenius that reap billions from government spending and Tesla and other enterprises on the receiving end of incentives and favorable regulatory treatment. Does that seem right to you?
  • Recently some enterprises have elected to cease making political donations. We hope that movement extends to California. But in the meantime, we think all elected officials should reject donations from any enterprise that does business with the state.
  • Assembly Members Rivas, Chiu, Bloom and Wicks have also introduced a bill to raise taxes on private sector jobs to help alleviate homelessness. But the $2.4 billion that bill would raise could be exceeded 2x if they and other legislators terminated a program that diverts $4.9b per year to unnecessary insurance subsidies for retired prison and other employees who already have Medicare or are entitled to subsidies from@CoveredCA.
  • They have the power to do so. Page 135 of the state’s annual report states “Benefit terms are governed by state law and can be amended by the Legislature.” But Assembly Members Rivas, Chiu, Bloom and Wicks and most other legislators haven’t yet evidenced any willingness to take on public safety and other state employee enterprises.
  • That’s something we understand. For decades, elected officials in CA have succeeded politically by saying one thing to the public but doing another in private, such as taking donations from and protecting prison guard unions on whom they shower billions per year.
  • But 2021 should be the start of something different. Assembly Members Rivas, Chiu, Bloom and Wicks and their colleague should reject donations from enterprises that do business with the state and fight homelessness by eliminating unneeded subsidies.

Govern For California supports lawmakers who serve the general interest — and who walk their talk.

David Crane
President
@DavidGCrane

Originally published at https://mailchi.mp.

Lecturer at Stanford University and president of Govern For California

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