As much as we wish it otherwise, two recent bills illustrate how far our state legislature still has to travel to be fully liberated from special interests.
SB 951 subsidizes film producers. As Dan Walters of CALmatters put it in a recent column, “the film industry . . . is an almost infinitesimal factor in the state’s $2.6 trillion economy . . .[and] is no more deserving of state subsidies than other sectors that experience changes of economic circumstance.” Yet that small special interest extracted big money from the legislature.
AB 1832 uses state law to help preserve membership rolls in government employee unions, pose obstacles for employees wishing to modify authorizations allowing deductions from their wages to fund union fees, and even direct employee requests to cancel or change deductions to the union. AB 1832 is the equivalent of using state law to preserve customers for (say) cable companies and impose obstacles to terminating payments to those companies.
Because the bills are “budget trailer bills" they dodge the usual legislative process and will become law when Governor Brown signs the budget later this month. Still, as we wrote last week, we applaud the budget agreement for filling the Rainy Day Fund, rejecting a proposal to expand Medi-Cal at the expense of UC, CSU, courts and parks, refusing another pension bailout, and more.
Persistence is key. After seven years, legislators know that GFC is here to stay. Our network is growing faster than ever and we will be adding to our Sacramento staff. As GFC-backed legislators get stronger we will expect less special interest legislation and more pro-citizen victories such as the Assembly's passage of a licensing reform that surprised the establishment.