Govern For California supports lawmakers who legislate in the general interest. This week two bills will be up for votes in the State Assembly that are pure examples of special interest legislation.
To explain, first we must start with an understanding of Medicare, which is government-funded but not necessarily government-provided healthcare. Though funded by the government, Medicare beneficiaries may patronize either government-run or non-government-run hospitals.
California currently runs its K-12 system in a similar fashion. The state funds K-12 education for six million students who attend more than 10,000 schools, ~8,800 of which are government run, ~1,200 of which are non-government-run by non-profit organizations. But two bills have been introduced into the State Assembly that would restrict non-government-run schools. One (AB 1505) would strip them of appeal rights and deny their operation based upon the fiscal impact on government-run schools. The other (AB 1506) would impose a moratorium on non-government-run schools.
To put the bills into perspective, if they applied to Medicare they would cap the number of non-government-run hospitals, deny a non-government-run hospital the right to appeal its exclusion from Medicare funding, and prohibit the establishment of a non-government-run hospital if it would take customers from publicly-run hospitals.
Why would anyone wish to so limit non-government-run schools, commonly referred to in California as “charter schools”? The answer is that government-run schools in California are short billions of dollars to cover unfunded retirement costs for their government employees. They covet the money that now goes to non-government-run schools.
A government-employee union’s own math illustrates the case. According to them, Los Angeles’s school district is spending $591 million per year on non-government run schools. The same district spends nearly $1 billion per year on retirement costs in government-run schools. The $591 million serves >100,000 kids. The $1 billion serves no kids.
Similar math prevails in Sacramento’s school district, which has issued layoff notices and cut programs to close a $35 million deficit caused not by non-government-run schools but rather by the district choosing to subsidize the health insurance of retirees from government-run schools who are already subsidized by Medicare and to provide a health care plan 70 percent more expensive than the plan of the district next door.
But there are no bills in the legislature to address those problems. Instead, the legislators sponsoring AB 1505 and AB 1506 prefer to scapegoat non-government-run schools, no different than politicians scapegoating (say) immigrants. Is a moratorium any different than a wall? Is denying appeal rights any different than denying due process?
They are also vigilantes. Earlier this year Governor Newsom established a commission to study the impact of charters that must report its findings no later than July 1. Sources tell us the report will be issued June 1 — less than two weeks from now. But vigilantes don’t wait for facts.
GFC is not a single issue network but its members are of a single mind in the pursuit of its objective of lawmakers legislating in the general interest. California’s legislators must reject scapegoating, vigilantism and Assembly Bills 1505 and 1506.