Friday, March 21, 2008

But At Least He Won't Raise Taxes

Back in the '90's, when welfare reform was a hot priority, one of the problems in getting welfare mothers into the workforce was that they were, of course, mothers. Childcare was so expensive that those women couldn't afford to go to work at entry level jobs and pay to have their children taken care of properly. In response to that, California began subsidizing child care. Grandparents, neighbors, siblings received a stipend from the state for watching the kids while mom worked. Unfortunately, the pay was lousy and the hours worked were long.

Last year, and again this year, a bill was drafted and passed by the state legislature allowing for collective bargaining for the child care providers. Last year, and again this year, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. From today's Sacramento Bee:

Legislation to grant collective bargaining rights to grandmas, aunts and other subsidized child-care providers was vetoed Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Senate Bill 867 targeted a pivotal service for low-income parents, with about 90,000 providers assisting 700,000 families at a public cost of more than $3 billion.

Schwarzenegger's veto message cited the state's massive budget deficit, which despite recent trims is pegged at $8 billion.

"Given California's significant budget challenge, I cannot consider bills that would add significant fiscal pressures to the state's structural budget deficit," he wrote.
[Emphasis added]

The Governator doesn't believe that this section of the workforce has the right to join a union, even though state employees have long held that right. Yes, the stipend would no doubt be more expensive, but then welfare was expensive, much more expensive than paying a decent wage for decent child care. And it's not like it's a free ride for these families. The working mothers are paying state income and sales taxes.

The stipend was intended to give the care givers an incentive, but the poor wages and long hours turned out not to be much of an incentive, as the bill's sponsors pointed out:

Supporters of SB 867 said it would bolster a vital program that suffers from extreme turnover – an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent annually – because providers typically work more than 60 hours per week for annual salaries of less than $16,000. [Emphasis added]

That's like, what? Less than $6 an hour? That's not even minimum wage.

Like his counterpart in Washington, Gov. Schwarzenegger insists on balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. Far better that than expecting the wealthy to share in the burden.

What a travesty.

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