FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In Sacramento and Los Angeles today, nearly 30,000 educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and other concerned voters came by bus and train from across California to protest Governor Schwarzenegger's reckless special interest agenda and plans for a wasteful $80 million special election.
More than 10,000 people packed Pershing Square in Los Angeles – and 20,000 beseiged the State Capitol, where CTA President Barbara E. Kerr was the emcee of a rally of historic size and spirit. She looked out at thousands and thousands of educators waving protest signs and banners in the blazing afternoon sun.
"Teachers are fed up with this governor's broken promises to our kids and schools," Kerr told the massive crowd in Sacramento. "First, he refused to repay the $2 billion that he borrowed from schools last year and now he is pushing for a wasteful $80 million special election that favors special interests and hurts schools. The governor should be working with lawmakers to craft a budget that protects school funding, public safety and healthcare."
The "Action Day for a Better California" protests were sponsored by the Alliance for a Better California, a coalition of 2 million working Californians united in strong opposition to the governor's political agenda.
Standing in front of the State Capitol, dozens of speakers highlighted the governor's series of broken promises since he was elected to office. During his campaign, he promised not to take any special interest money. Since that time, he has raised more special interest money than any governor in the history of our state.
Oscar Berrera, a Stockton firefighter who was in a house fire when a ceiling fell on top of him and lost two close firefighter "brothers" in that incident, had this message for the governor:
"When Governor Schwarzenegger tries to yank the safety net from underneath my brother and sister firefighters, I take it personally," he said. "We won't let Governor Schwarzenegger break his promises to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our lives, our homes and our dreams."
Nurses in Sacramento and Los Angeles also expressed their outrage at the governor's reckless agenda.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger has a very clear agenda--to shift the burden of California's financial problems onto the backs of working people rather than having corporations pay for their fair share," Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association, said in Sacramento. "This governor is working to protect the profits of healthcare corporations at the expense of every day Californians. The result is a healthcare delivery system that does not provide Californians the care they need and deserve. As RNs, we see the tragic consequences every day and we are here because we cannot let this continue."
Clyde Rivers, president of the California School Employees Association, said, "He has broken his promises to our schools, time and again. And he has broken his promises to the workers, and injured workers of California, time and again. And he broke his word on workers' pensions time and again."
"We can't trust our governor to make good decisions for our state, and we can't even trust him to stand by the deals that he makes," said Jim Hard, president of SEIU Local 1000, which represents 90,000 state workers. "Instead of finding solutions to real problems, he's trying to silence the voices of working people and his opposition through a 'paycheck deception' measure on the ballot."
Many speakers in Sacramento and Los Angeles highlighted the fact that the governor's "special election" to help pass an agenda for his special interest donors will cost California taxpayers a whopping $80 million, at the same time that he is proposing cuts to priorities like education.
Some examples of what $80 million could be better spent on were:
- $80 million pays for the salaries of more than 2,300 teachers.
- $80 million pays for almost 4 million up-to-date textbooks for our students.
- $80 million implements class size reduction in nearly 6,000 classrooms.
- $80 million pays for almost 1200 shiny new school buses.
- $80 million could pay for college for almost 10,000 UC students and almost 12,000 Cal-State students.
- $80 million pays for more than 4,000 caregivers so over 5,000 seniors and persons with disabilities can receive quality homecare.
- $80 million pays for a year of health insurance for approximately 29,900 uninsured Californians between the ages of 30-49 – taking care of the largest group of uninsured in our state.