Capitol Alert

Holly Mitchell unhappy with teacher union criticism of child care proposal

Then-Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, at a legislative hearing in 2013. Mitchell, a state senator, questions the California Teachers Association’s opposition to the Senate’s plan to expand child-care slots.
Then-Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, at a legislative hearing in 2013. Mitchell, a state senator, questions the California Teachers Association’s opposition to the Senate’s plan to expand child-care slots. hamezcua@sacbee.com

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said she is upset with the California Teachers Association’s vocal opposition to the Senate’s plan to cover much of its proposed higher spending on child care with money allocated under the Proposition 98 funding guarantee for schools.

Dean Vogel, the association’s president, said that the Senate proposal would take “more away from 5-year-olds to give to 3-year-olds.” In an interview Thursday, Mitchell said she has seen the same logic on union literature, which she called “weakest, most sophomoric argument I could ever hear.”

Mitchell suggested that the union’s opposition to the Senate’s plan stems from the fact it believes none of the extra spending would benefit its members. “What else can it be? I’m trying to unconnect the dots, but they haven’t shown me any other option,” she said.

Potentially complicating the issue for labor-friendly Democrats is some unions have feet in both camps. The Service Employees International Union represents thousands of California school employees and also seeks to represent child care providers.

The issue is among the thorniest lawmakers face as they began today to reconcile differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget.

Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget, schools and community colleges are set to receive $63 billion for the year ending June 30 and $65.7 billion in the year that begins July 1. Both amounts are up significantly from the $58.7 billion in the year ending June 30, 2014.

Schools are “flush,” Mitchell said. “This is the perfect year to put childcare back in” to the Proposition 98 part of the budget, where it was until budget cuts in 2011.

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