Union on Board with Governor Brown’s California Tax Plan

The California Teachers Association (CTA), which represents more than 325,000 teachers and education workers in the state, has announced that it is officially backing Governor Jerry Brown's multibillion-dollar tax plan.

Brown is currently gathering signatures for a November initiative to raise sales taxes by a half-cent and income taxes on high-income earners. The support of the union is thought to offer him a huge boost, writes Kevin Yamamura at the Bee Capitol Bureau.

After the Service Employees International Union State Council (SEIU), the CTA is the second most powerful public employee union to back Brown's deal. And it's understood that if voters reject Brown's plan, schools would face a $2.4 billion program cut in the next school year.

While the SEIU's approval is not official – as confirmed by spokesman Michael Cox – CTA President Dean E. Vogel told his members on Saturday that the "SEIU State Council has already taken a support position."

It took a vote by the State Council – a group of nearly 800 union leaders – to make the organization's expected position official.

Vogel said:

"It is way past time for a tax increase, and we must help lead the way in getting a revenue package approved."

While some members preferred the "millionaires tax" proposed by the California Federation of Teachers, Vogel made it clear that there was only one real option that the entire organization could back.

Vogel called the CFT plan "the most progressive of the proposals … But as it is written, there are some unintended consequences. This initiative doesn't help close the current budget deficit and does not pay for the local realignment. There also is another big issue: It doesn't help restore program cuts to essential services."

This comes after LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy criticized Brown's strategy, as the district – which in its budget crisis has seen the loss of thousands of jobs – faces hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts if the plan fails.

Deasy said:

After several years of cuts, "there is not a single, solitary thing in this budget that can and should be reduced.

"The rights of youth are completely imperiled if not outright violated" by the level of public support of education."

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