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A Special Election By and For the Teachers Unions?

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A Special Election By and For the Teachers Unions?

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SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 03: Jerry Brown pauses as he delivers remarks after he was sworn in as the 39th governor of California by California on January 3, 2011 in Sacramento, California. Jerry Brown will begin his third term as California's governor 28 years after serving his last term. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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No announcement has been made, but reports on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, scheduled for official release Monday, make it plain. This election belongs as much to the state's largest teachers' unions as it does to Brown.

Let's connect some dots.

-Core to the Brown plan is a special election in June that would give voters the choice of extending 2009 tax increases on income, sales and vehicles -- or cutting the education budget. Specifically, voters would be choosing between tax increases that would permit the state to fund the Prop 98 education guarantee or the suspension of Prop 98. Prop 98 was a 1988 ballot initiative written by and since protected by the California Teachers Assn., the state's largest teachers union. Brown wouldn't dare frame the election this way without the full-on support of CTA.

-Brown also seems to be reviving a number of proposals -- including the repurposing of money that voters had designated for early childhood education and mental health -- that were backed by the education lobby as part of a 2009 budget agreement. They were turned down by voters, but the education lobby is trying again here to get its hands on that money.

-Brown doesn't appear to have done any serious fundraising for an election, which is surprising if he's anticipating a June 2011 vote. Of course, he may not need to raise much money, since this election strategy seems predicated on the strong backing of teachers' unions, who presumably would provide whatever money needed for a campaign.

-Last week, Brown got rid of a majority of the state school board, replacing several critics of teachers' unions. The LA Times reported that the change was engineered with the California Teachers Association.

A political cynic would argue that Brown was helping out the teachers' unions at a time when he needs their help with a special election.

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