A MATCH MADE IN SPIN HEAVEN
Shortly after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to a deal late last year with education groups, led by the California Teachers Association, a top official of a leading public employee union shook his head in grudging admiration. "The CTA," he told me, "loves Republican governors."
Just as a Democratic governor cannot afford to be perceived as soft on crime, a Republican governor cannot afford to be perceived as weak on education. And in this state there is only one group with the wealth and political standing that could drive that perception if it chose: the California Teachers Association.
The deal negotiated among Schwarzenegger, the CTA and other education groups was that K-12 education would not get $2 billion in deferred budget increases next year but would otherwise be held harmless in the governor's proposed budget. The net result was a budget request that would increase per-pupil spending — an arrangement that was as good or better than anyone in the education community could have hoped, given California's dire fiscal situation.
Today, as he reviewed his boss' first 100 days in office (today is No. 93, but the big day is coming fast), Communications Director Rob Stutzman cited the deal with the education community as one of Schwarzenegger's top accomplishments.
"The conventional wisdom was that the CTA would be a nemesis for a Republican governor," Stutzman said.
That may have been the conventional wisdom in the general public, but inside the labor community the deal meshed precisely with conventional thinking: that the CTA would get the very best possible deal from a Republican governor who didn't want to be tarnished with criticism that he was shortchanging education.