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December 11, 2008

Stunning New Budget Demands From California's Republicans

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Tuesday I wrote that Republicans were demanding mass layoffs of public employees -- during a recession. And they are getting away with it because the state's corporate-owned media outlets are not explaining to the public what is going on.

The history of how we got to this point of budget stalemate is that Republicans in the legislature have blocked every single budget and gone back on their own Governor and every negotiated compromise, demanding that all budget shortfalls be solved by laying off teachers, construction workers, DMV workers, firefighters, etc. And through the whole process they have refused to offer any plan for the cuts they demand. But this is explained to the voters as a problem caused by "both sides" or "the legislature" or "refusing to work together" or to "reach a compromise" or "pointing fingers." Some even manage to blame the Democrats for not completely caving in to every single demand! The result is that effective public pressure does not develop to get this solved.

Now, rather than compromise and work with the Democrats and the Governor, they have come up with a new list of demands, on top of their previous demands. And this list is really something:

"Democrats have to capitulate to GOP demands for the 8-hour work day, meal breaks, looser environmental regulations, permanent budget cuts and a stiff spending cap, among other things.

Then, and only then, will Republicans come to the table to discuss -- but not necessarily agree to -- new taxes"

Even if Democrats agree to all of the new demands, then the Republicans demand that we "sell state property!" Note that the entire list of new demands involves more tax cuts for businesses, revoking labor laws, removing environmental protections, removing worker and consumer safety regulations, making a very few wealthy people richer through lower pay for working people, etc. They even want to get rid of meal breaks and overtime pay for employees! These demands have nothing to do with helping regular Californians get through the day, they are about making things harder and less safe for us, just to make a few people ever richer. These stunning new demands have nothing to do with the budget.

This is an attempt to apply the 2/3 requirement to remove existing laws that have been in place for years, agreed to by majority votes of the Legislature, signed by the Governor, that are now established (and well-accepted) practices of the state.

In an interesting observation, David Dayen at Calitics asks if these demands possibly violate Section 86 of the California Penal Code. Take a look at his argument.

One thing for sure, this is not the time for Democrats to cave in to extortion like this. This extortion comes because Democrats have enabled the power to do this by trying to work with the other party to fairly govern the state and compromising in the face of these tactics in the past. But these are not negotiations with an opposition that is interested in governing, so this time Democrats have to put their foot down and protect Californians and protect our form of government. WE elected them and WE made them a majority for a reason. WE want our government to function, not to be hijacked to serve only the interests of a wealthy few.

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at December 11, 2008 3:24 PM


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