SEIU ads target GOP over budget

The budget showdown continued Wednesday, as Democrats failed to secure Republican votes for a package of spending cuts, and Republican leaders decried the Democrats for running a “political drill.”

Republicans, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, say Democrats must go further to make spending cuts. Last week, the governor renewed a call for an additional 5 percent cut in state worker pay, as he highlighted what he views as the short-comings in the Democrats’ proposal.

Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union, is taking to the airwaves to fight budget cuts, and call for new revenue increases.SEIU’s television ad campaign – it’s second campaign — was launched Wednesday, even as both houses of the Legislature rejected a Democrat-backed attempt to resolve a $24 billion budget shortage. Republicans, whose votes are needed to reach two-thirds-vote majorities in the Senate and Assembly, voted against the plan.

The SEIU hopes to put pressure on Republicans in the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to support tax increases.
The ads call for the governor to support taxes in the name of “shared sacrifice” — a reference to the myriad groups who are in line to take a hit in the proposed round of budget cuts.

“When lawmakers cut health care for kids, the governor called it “shared sacrifice. When they slashed aid to college students, and home care for seniors, he called it “shared sacrifice.” Now they propose taxes on Big Oil and Tobacco and he calls it a deal-breaker,” the ad states. “Tell the Governor special interests should sacrifice too.”

Specifically, the ad focuses of Democrats’ call to tax oil production and tobacco products to the tune of about $2 billion. The governor and Republican legislators have said they will not support those taxes.

“It is unconscionable that Governor Schwarzenegger would allow Big Oil and Tobacco to avoid their fair share of taxes while taking health care from kids, throwing seniors and people with disabilities out their homes, depriving our students of an education, and undermining the quality of life of California’s working families,” said Eliseo Medina, SEIU executive vice president in a statement.
“We need a fair and balanced approach that mixes cuts and common-sense tax increases.” SEIU spokesman Mike Roth would not elaborate about the size of the ad buy, but a statement from the union claimed it was a “six-figure ad buy on broadcast and cable television” across California.

A Spanish-language version of the ad will also run on Spanish-language stations. SEIU opposed Proposition 1A, the centerpiece of the May 19 special election, which would have limited future state spending, but kept billions in tax increases on the books for three extra years.

The union is a large funder of Democratic campaigns, and has helped lead the charge for taxes to be part of the budget conversation — particularly among Assembly Democrats. But Republicans are not expected to put up votes for those taxes Wednesday — a reality that even Senate leader Darrell Steinberg acknowledged in a Capitol press conference Tuesday.But Steinberg is trying to force Republicans at the very least to vote for spending cuts Wednesday.

“If they’re going to stand on the argument that cuts are not deep enough and thereby not vote for $11 billion in cuts, then we have some issues,” Steinberg said. “It’s interesting. I’m getting a sense that Republicans are getting shy about voting for cuts. That would be an odd headline: Democrats urging Republicans to vote for cuts.”

Republicans and Gov. Scwharzenegger said they would not sign off on specific cuts until a comprehensive budget solution is reached — one that finds somewhere in the neighborhood of $24 billion of budget solutions.

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