Ask the average Californian what those acronyms stand for and you’ll draw a blank stare. Ask a candidate for governor and they’ll snap to attention.

Those acronyms are associations (see * below) representing the largest recipients of state spending and the beneficiaries of state laws shielding them from accountability or competition. The health, safety and teaching professions represented by the Associations do important work but also they are commercial interests seeking the greatest possible revenues at the least amount of performance, competition and accountability. When they succeed at their political objectives, it usually means less money for universities, parks, courts and welfare, lower K-12 performance, and higher taxes, tuition, and health care costs.

Citizens generally lose when Associations score political wins.

For example, CMA, CNA, CHA and SEIU support laws boosting their customer bases, limiting consumer choice and forcing spending in their favor whether or not that spending produces a healthier population. CDA objects to legislation allowing competitors to establish dental hygiene practices. CTA fights accountability and dismissal of poorly-performing teachers and seeks tax increases and t0 divert spending from charter schools in order to finance fast-growing employee pensions and other retirement costs. CCPOA received three salary increases since 2010 with the result that the state now spends more on the salaries and benefits of just 56,500 employees than on 12x as many students attending the University of California and California State University.

Candidates for California governor often seek the endorsement of Associations, who have lots of political money and sometimes political ground forces. But endorsement of a candidate by an Association should be a worrisome sign to citizens.That’s because Associations are extremely successful in pursuing their commercial interests to the detriment of citizens. General Fund spending on pensions, other post-employment benefits and health care enterprises — ie, spending benefitting Associations — is 99%, 47% and 58% higher in 2017 than in 2011 while the share of the General Fund available for UC, CSU, courts, parks and other discretionary spending — ie, spending benefitting citizens — is 43% lower and tax rates are 30% higher. The state also added $100 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities in favor of government employee Association members and delivered seven million more customers to health care Association members.

Association support of a gubernatorial candidate in California is often the equivalent of military contractor support for a presidential candidate.

Associations cloak their communications in emotionally evocative words such as “access,” “safety,” “kids” and “care” but like most businesses, they support politicians who will boost their revenues and shield them from accountability and competition. Citizens would be wise to be skeptical of candidates who seek the support of Associations.

*California Dental Association, California Hospital Association, California Medical Association, California Nurses Association, California Teachers Association, Service Employees International Union, California Correctional Peace Officers Association