Note: This story has been updated from its original verbage to reflect my interview with the president of the CTA. --JM
Calling the event the "California State of Emergency," teachers say their goal is to get the Legislature to pass a budget that includes some $11 billion in tax extensions, the same ones the governor still says he wants placed on a statewide ballot this year.
"The week begins and ends with a group of educators (with others invited to join) taking over the State Capitol," says a document found online.
In a phone interview this afternoon, CTA president David Sanchez said the Wisconsin protests are indeed the model of the Capitol protest part of the events planned for the week of May 9-13. He says they intend to have a sit-in here at the Sacramento statehouse lasting all week, with six rallies in cities across the state on Friday the 13th.
"Our teachers are absolutely fed up with what's happening right now," said Sanchez.
The CTA was a big backer of Jerry Brown in the 2010 gubernatorial race, and remains so now. But the union is diverging from the governor on the issue of a special tax election, which Brown continues to insist could happen in September or as late as November. CTA president Sanchez says that any election beyond the Guv's preferred plan of June -- where the taxes have expired and thus become tax increases -- isn't a politically winnable play.
"I think it would be extremely challenging for the public to support that," said Sanchez.
Below is an audio excerpt of my interview with the CTA president on how to resolve the demand for a legislative tax proposal with the governor's campaign promise that voters would be the ones to ratify additional taxes.
On the Capitol protest, it remains to be seen whether the comparison to the Wisconsin protests is a fair one. That month-long event was sparked by a proposal to change collective bargaining rights, a plan pushed by the state's new governor, Scott Walker.
There's no such proposal here in Sacramento, but the images of protesters, often teachers, camping out in the marble hallways of Madison's statehouse could be appealing to those who believe California's budget battle is just as serious.
The CTA online presentation says the week of events "is just the start of a long-term, cohesive plan" to focus on the state's fiscal woes. School districts around California will be facing some very tough choices that same week, as they make final decisions on which employees will be let go to save money. The CTA says in the past three years, some 30,000 educators and another 10,000 support staffers in the state have lost their jobs due to budget cuts.
A KQED colleague of mine first heard about the May protest plans last week. This morning, the former chairman of the California Republican Party apparently found some of the same documents online, blasting out a critique of the CTA plan to reporters.
Former GOP chair Ron Nehring also poses some questions in his email to reporters. "How much extra for substitute teachers will school districts be forced to spend while CTA teachers are busy protesting instead of teaching?" he writes.
Again, more from the CTA on the plans later this morning. The event will undoubtedly add some fiery rhetoric to a week that will be full of drama already, given the choices left for legislators to solve the remaining $15 billion budget shortfall. Governor Brown is scheduled to release his 'May Revise' of the budget on Monday, May 16.