California Paycheck Protection Act (2010)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
Mark Bucher, Dawn Wildman, Allan Mansoor, Lawrence Sand and Mark Meckler filed a letter with the California Attorney General on October 12 requesting a ballot title. The ballot summary was supplied on December 4, 2009 and the petition was cleared for circulation with a deadline of May 3, 2010.
Under the proposed initiative:
- Public employee unions (such as the California Teachers Association and AFSCME) would not be allowed to use any portion of workers’ paychecks (funds that are collected by the government) for political activities.
- Public employees would be able to make their own decisions about political contributions.
- Public employee unions would be able to solicit donations for political activity from union members.
Ballot title: Imposes Political Contribution Restrictions on Public Employee Labor Organizations. Initiative Statute.
Official summary: Prohibits public employee labor organizations from using member dues or nonmember fees for disbursements to political committees unless the employee provides prior annual written consent on a particular form. Does not apply to dues or fees collected for charitable organizations, health care insurance, or other purposes directly benefitting the public employee. Requires public employee labor organizations to maintain and, upon request, submit to designated government authority, records of authorization, employee funds withheld and transferred to political committees, which records are not subject to disclosure under Public Records Act.
Estimated fiscal impact: Probably minor state and local government implementation costs, potentially offset in part by revenues from fines and/or fees.
According to a March 2010 report by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the top two spenders in California politics were public-sector unions. A spreadsheet of the 15 biggest spenders in California politics is available here.
The measure's sponsors are organized into a group called "Unplug The Machine."
The group's website says:
- "The public employee unions run this state, and are running it right into the ground. Everyone in politics knows it, and increasingly everyone else is figuring it out. Conventional wisdom is that the unions are too powerful to take on."
- The goal of the proposed measure "...is simple. It gets the government out of the business of funding political campaigns."
- Thirty years ago, then Governor Jerry Brown created public employee unions in California, now the most powerful special interest by far in California. How powerful? Ask any politician – nothing happens in Sacramento without their permission. They get their power because the government collects their political war chests right off the top of public employee salaries."
- "The government collects dues for the unions, and the unions give as much as 1/3 right back to the politicians who gave them that right in the first place. It’s a sweet deal for the politicians and the unions."
- "How much money is involved? Let’s look at round numbers for just one union – the California Teachers Association. There are 340,000 teachers, who pay approximately $1000 per year in union dues. $300 per year, per teacher, goes toward politics. That’s $100 million per year, right of the top of teachers’ salaries, collected by the government, given to the CTA and its affiliates, and then funneled right back into the political campaigns of the politicians who do their bidding, which usually means voting for more spending and higher taxes on you and me."
- "It's time to take this state back."
According to Dan Walters, "unions want to strangle two pending measures" headed for the 2010 ballot. The two measures he believes they most want to strangle are this paycheck protection act and a proposed public pension reform act.
Walters says that "the groups sponsoring the two are immune to direct retaliation. So unions and their allies may be attempting to choke off their money by filing measures that would repeal $2 billion in state tax breaks for business enacted last February, virtually prohibit corporate political contributions and sharply raise property taxes on business."
According to his analysis, the goal of unions is to send a signal to major business groups in the state that if they "back the campaigns on union political funds or pensions", they will "face measures that would cost them many billions of dollars in new taxes and reduce their political clout."
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
- California Proposition 226 (1998)
- California Proposition 75 (2005)
- California No Political Deductions from Public Employee Paychecks (2010)
- Letter to Attorney General requesting ballot title (09-0055)
- Unplug the Political Machine, website of proponents
- Citizen Power Campaign Online Community
- Orange County Register, "Editorial: Paycheck protection is back", December 3, 2009
- California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), "Big Money Talks: The 15 Special Interests that Spent $1 Billion to Shape California Government", (March 2010). See page 10, "The 15 That Spent $1 Billion to Influence California Voters and Public Officials."
- Big Government, "Californians Prepare Initiative to Make Politics Voluntary, Even for Union Members", December 30, 2009
- San Luis Obispo Tribune, "Political chess played on California initiatives", December 4, 2009