Late last week Republican legislators laid out a blueprint for a way to adopt a balanced budget for California that does not require increasing taxes. It is unclear whether Governor Brown, when he gives his remarks as he proposes his May Revision to his proposed budget, will ignore the road map presented to him by Republicans, or simply scoff at it. Either way, it’s pretty well accepted that Jerry Brown will continue on his quixotic quest to jack up broad based taxes on Californians just when they can least afford it – right in the middle of a recession. In fact, Brown is not just looking to find four sell-out Republicans willing to place massive tax increases on the ballot — he actually wants four GOP legislators to actually increase the taxes that expire on June 30th (except for the income tax, supposedly). Yeah, good luck with that. Republican resolve is strong to see a solution to this situation that does not punish Californians for the negative impacts of liberal policies on this state for decades.
That said, apparently one very minor part of Brown’s revised budget will be a proposal to abolish the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB). While the Governor has proposed some very bad ideas, he has had some good ones — such as abolishing California Redevelopment Agencies (which allow local governments to manipulate what should be a free market process, literally picking specific winners and losers — shameful), and now this idea, to get rid of the CUIAB. A great idea.
I have spoken with both current and former members of the CUIAB. A pretty convincing case can be made that the work done by the members of this Board should not be discontinued — which is to say that the level of appellate review that they provide in cases where either the employer or former employee are disputing the findings of the state as to whether or not benefits should be paid has value.
That having been said, what has no value — and in fact a negative value — is the CUIAB itself. The practical reality is that Board has been a tool for Governors, Senate Presidents and Assembly Speakers to appoint former legislators — kind of an end-run around term limits as these folks never really go back into the private sector to live under the laws they have created. In fact, even worse, sometimes these appointments are used to “reward” very poor behavior. A great anecdotal example would be the current appointment of ex-State Senator Roy Ashburn by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. While all will deny it publicly, it was obvious to anyone engaged in California politics that Ashburn got the plum appointment with its six-figure salary because he (as a termed out legislator) cast one of the six votes to smack Californians with two-year increases in their sales, income and car taxes.
While I applaud Brown for his proposal to end this Board, he is not the first Governor to propose doing so — Schwarzenegger proposed “terminating” it as well (isn’t it ironic that, after failing to get it abolished, he then used it in the same fashion as his predecessors?). The reality is that the Democrat-controlled legislature will be loathe to abolish the Board (which has many Republicans in seats now that are coveted by term-limited Democrats) — so we’ll have to see what happens. Don’t hold your breath.