A Yes Man Says No: Jerry Brown angers his labor-union friends with some expedient vetoes.
Californians hoping for a return to fiscal sanity in a debt-soaked, union-dominated state had some good news this week, when Governor Jerry Brown vetoed three major union-backed bills. “Gov. Jerry Brown is proving not to be a yes man—even to unions that spent millions to elect him,” observed the Sacramento Bee’s Jim Sanders. Brown has been in the past as much of a “yes man” to unions as any governor could be, but he apparently sets some limits on his willingness to placate their insatiable demands.
Brown’s most significant veto was Assembly Bill 2451, a Democratic bill that gained some Republican support and passed the assembly on a lopsided vote of 57 to 19 and the senate by 21 to eight. Currently, the families of California’s “public-safety workers” (police, fire and prison guards, campus security guards, milk inspectors, etc.) receive survivor benefits through the state workers’ compensation system when a worker dies in a job-related incident. The families can receive $250,000 in total benefits, parceled out in monthly installments, or more if the safety officer dies within four and a half years of injury (in practice, the state has considered every sort of injury, from heart disease to cancer, somehow “job-related”). Assembly speaker John Perez and his fellow Democrats tried to expand an already-generous survivors’ benefit almost without limit—meaning, for instance, that if a retired police officer died of cancer at 90, his family could file a claim and receive a large payout.
Legislators later amended the bill, merely doubling the time period in which family members could file claims, and eliminating some of the more outlandish causes of death. But the bill remained outrageous even in modified form, and it shows the lengths to which the legislature will go to enrich union members. “The problem is that over the years, the legislature has been doing the bidding of unions by creating within the law presumptions that literally put the government (at every level) in the position of having to disprove that a cause of death was work related, rather than the burden of proof being the other way—like it is in the private sector…”