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Striking a high note in political pandering

Clair Fortier, Guest columnist

Governor “Goodies” Davis wants to send what he terms a “clarion call across the nation.” His plan to relieve public school teachers of state income taxes would demonstrate just how much Californians value their teachers, Governor Goodies claims.

But Davis’ clarion call is more akin to a warbled aria to special interest. His pathetic plan is the most blatant political butt buss since President Bill Clinton invited a few of his richest friends to spend the night in the Lincoln bedroom.

Fortunately, the second largest teacher lobbying group in the state – California Federation of Teachers – has renounced the idea as divisive. The $545 million idea would “cause division and dissension within schools,” says the union.

That’s to say nothing of the rest of the state’s work force.

But the big kahuna – the California Teachers Association – not surprisingly applauds the idea. Teachers deserve the recognition, says CTA, a group that contributed almost $100,000 to Davis’ campaign. The Association is curiously mum on the fact Davis’ plan does not include private school teachers. Only union teachers would be eligible.

Mary Bergan, president of the California Federation of Teachers, calls for teacher recognition in other ways, such as pay raises or providing more general-purpose fund money to jurisdictions.

Now there is an idea. What about giving back all the $12.3 billion California taxpayers have overpaid a bloated and self-serving state government?

As the governor sprinkles his largess among his favorites, returning the money to local jurisdictions simply is not in Governor Goodies’ plan.

Davis’ pet project – education – stands to gain some $3.9 billion between teacher income tax exemptions and a $1.84 billion bump to school districts. That compares to a paltry $250 million Davis intends to return to local governments in a one-time handout.

In the meantime, some areas are scrambling for new roads, sidewalks, ball fields, etc.

There is something very wrong when more than 12 percent of the state budget is seen as surplus. But, alas, Governor Goodies wouldn’t be beloved by special interest if he were simply to return the money from whence is came – to overburdened taxpayers or to local governments that have been robbed by the state for years.

But if Governor Goodies is successful with teachers, watch out.

The Federation for State, County and Municipal Workers contributed more than $500,000 to Governor Goodies’ campaign. Could state tax exemptions for them be far behind?

How about the professional firefighters union, which contributed $245,000? Or the state employees association, which ponied up $522,000 to be Davis’ buddy? Throw in the council of iron workers ($203,000), the carpenters union ($500,000) or the council of service workers ($614,000) and others. Surely all that hard work must be rewarded.

And with Governor Goodies in charge, the political action committees should reap plenty. After all, Davis needs to honor all the hard work and big bucks that helped Governor Goodies get where he is today.

Claire Fortier is the opinion page editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


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