Democratic lawmakers in California passed a colossal taxpayer giveaway to allied interest groups this summer just months before the November midterms.
In June, the Democratic supermajority in Sacramento approved the “Workers Tax Fairness Credit,” a first-of-its-kind subsidy for union dues allowing unionized employees to claim state dollars for membership.
Max Nelson, the director of labor policy at the free-market conservative think tank Freedom Foundation, described the legislation as a “bold” mechanism to expand union membership and empower state-sponsored speech.
“Taxpayers are being compelled by the force of state law to pay people to pay unions,” Nelson said.
Big labor groups may also claim the benefits for themselves, where raising dues to cover the difference offered by the tax credit would enrich union leadership who dictate organizations’ political contributions.
In California, the unions are a force to be reckoned with at every level of government, spending more than $25 million to save Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom from last year’s recall effort, according to CalMatters. That’s more money than Hollywood, California’s tech industry, local Indian tribes, and state real estate players spent in the recall race combined.
The tax credit doled out directly to union interest groups, Nelson said, “is certainly pushing the boundaries of what has been determined to be acceptable in the past.”
“This is just a step or two removed from direct government funding of political advocacy,” Nelson added.
The cost of the taxpayer subsidy is introduced with an up to $400 million-dollar price tag, which is subject to change under annual appropriations.
Since the landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which ruled public sector unions can no longer mandate non-union employees pay dues, public union membership has declined 20 percent in California. Newsom’s tax credit incentivizes a reversal of the downward trend in membership for groups central to the Democrats’ policy agenda.
“We’re kind of into some new frontiers here, which will be interesting for both the courts to grapple with and the states,” Nelson told The Federalist, where Democrats have now embraced a measure to directly fund their own allies who, in turn, will “plow money into progressive electoral politics.”
California unions, meanwhile, are reliably liberal, not only donating to far-left politicians who reward organizations with generous tax credits but also by direct engagement in left-wing activism.
In 2020, the state teachers’ unions were instrumental in prolonging school shutdowns detrimental to students’ health. The California Teachers Association went as far as spying on parents who wanted to open schools. The teachers union in Los Angeles also allegedly used resources to conduct opposition research on concerned parents.
School closings aside, teachers’ unions, in particular, have embraced far-left activism in schools, including race-based curriculums and radical gender theory. The “advocacy” tab on the California Teachers’ Association’s website includes a section on “social justice,” which lists priorities for “Women’s History Month,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Celebrating the Latinx Community,” “Supporting AAPI Educators and Students,” “Honoring Native American Heritage,” and “Taking Action for the LGBTQ+ Community.”
California taxpayers will now be on the hook for membership dues thanks to Sacramento’s generous tax credit.