Two good pieces from the Los Angeles Times

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Here is a story from the Los Angeles Times on how teachers unions bilk their members by steering them into investments that don't give them maximum returns but do give massive returns to the unions.

The teachers unions, of course, say they represent the best interests of the teachers, but their chief aim seems to be to increase their own financial returns and maximize their political clout. They, along with other public-employee unions, succeeded in trashing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's job rating and defeating his ballot propositions this year. Now one of the two serious candidates in the Democratic primary for governor, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, is trumping his support of higher taxes and his promise to spend more on education, in contrast to his opponent, Controller Steve Westly, who is against raising taxes now. This is from an Angelides campaign E-mail:

Phil Angelides Is the Only Candidate for Governor

Who Will Balance the Budget

and Fully Fund California's Schools

Whoever is elected California's next governor in November will face a $3.8 billion shortfall in order to balance the 2007-08 budget and fully fund California's schools. (Legislative Analyst's Office, 2/22/06) Only one candidate, Phil Angelides, has proposed a real, credible plan to meet the challenge of balancing the budget—after years of deficit spending—and fully funding education.

Steve Westly agrees with Phil Angelides that the $3.2 billion in funds taken from schools by Governor Schwarzenegger should be repaid and has suggested repaying that amount over four years. This would add $800 million to the 2007-08 budget, bringing the total shortfall to $4.6 billion.

Translation into English: Angelides promises to put crimps on the state's competent private-sector economy in order to funnel money to too-often-incompetent teachers-union members and to teachers-union treasuries. If Angelides wins the primary and the general election—he's currently trailing in polls for both but not by disastrous margins—California will have a state government more beholden to the public-employee unions than it has ever been since those unions became an important force in the 1970s. Gov. Gray Davis made at least some attempts to keep the public-employee unions in check, as has Schwarzenegger. Westly seems to be suggesting that he would try to do that too. If Angelides wins, it will probably be a different matter.