The governor's final batch of actions included 50 signings and 71 vetoes. He rejected all of the bills that sought to open new avenues for Californians to buy prescription drugs from Canada. Here is the basic message he used to cover them all:
A top priority of my Administration is to provide access to affordable prescription drugs. However, importing drugs from Canada or assisting residents in their efforts to do so would violate federal law and could expose the State to civil, criminal and tort liability. We all would like to see low-income uninsured residents have access to more affordable medicines, but measures such as this, over-simplify the complex safety, trade, supply and pricing issues involved in this marketplace. In light of these circumstances, I do not believe AB 1957 will bring the necessary relief to Californians who require assistance in accessing necessary medicines.
In an effort to bring significant price reductions to California’s most at-risk consumers, my Administration put forward “California Rx” that seeks to provide real assistance to these Californians. California Rx represents an approach that harnesses the purchasing power of low income seniors and uninsured Californians up to 300% of the federal poverty level ($47,000 for a
family of three) to secure meaningful discounts in prescription drug costs.
My Administration has begun negotiations with pharmaceutical companies regarding their participation in California Rx. While I am encouraged by the concrete commitments made by some members of the industry, I am disappointed that many companies have not yet stepped up and offered
meaningful discounts for this population. Over the next six weeks, I will continue negotiations to secure significant discounts for California’s low-income uninsured, and I hope to move forward with a legislative proposal in January 2005 to implement California Rx. If, however, specific companies and the industry as a whole are not willing to provide a real solution to this
problem, I will work closely with the State Legislature to develop an approach that guarantees significant reductions in prescription drug prices for California’s low-income uninsured residents.
Come January, I will propose legislation that will bring lower-cost prescription drugs to California’s most vulnerable residents. I am still hopeful that California Rx will be the vehicle to secure those price reductions, but for a voluntary, negotiated model such as California Rx to work, the drug companies must come forward and negotiate in good faith. I call upon the companies to help solve this problem through California Rx; but if I cannot rely on the good faith negotiations of the industry, I will use all the options at my disposal to secure lower-cost prescription drugs for low-income, uninsured Californians.
NOTE: My veto of the day is not necessarily a policy endorsement. Just a way to highlight where and how the governor is blocking the Legislature's will. Nominations gladly accepted.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:11 PM
Although he faced a midnight deadline for completing work on hundreds of bills sent to his desk at the end of the legislative session, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finished the task early, with at least 10 hours to spare. We'll get back to the substance later, but for now, some numbers:
844 bills sent to him at the end of the session.
Since he took office:
Peter Detwiler, a longtime legislative staffer who meticulously tracks these things, informs us that Arnold broke the modern record (since the Reagan era) for the fewest bills signed in his first year in office and nearly shattered the mark for the highest percentage of vetoes. He rejected 24.58 percent of the bills sent to him this year. Davis holds the record for the highest percentage vetoed, at 24.91, in his second year as governor, 2000.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:24 PM
September is in the books over at the Franchise Tax Board, and the surge in corporate tax payments I reported earlier this month held up. For the entire month, corporate taxes totalled $1.7 billion, which is nearly 30 percent more than the $1.3 billion projected for September by the Department of Finance. That's also a 54 percent increase from the same month just two years ago.
Personal income tax revenues, not including withholding, appear to have come in basically on target at just under $2 billion. Although, again, for perspective, that's 23 percent more than was collected in September, 2002.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:39 PM
Returning to his free-market roots, Schwarzenegger channels Milton Friedman in this message explaining his veto of AB 1829, the bill to stop the state from contracting with firms that ship any of the work overseas.
California is a partner in the global marketplace. California businesses and its citizens are entrepreneurial, innovative and on the leading edge of new ideas and technologies. The rest of the world has received untold benefits exported from our state; yet at the same time our state and its citizens have also benefited from our neighbors around the world.
As California begins to emerge from the dark days of our fiscal crisis, our focus should not be on erecting artificial barriers that will thwart the spirit of our citizens and the businesses that help our economy grow, but rather on ideas and policies that will fuel the thriving spirit of businesses who look to be on the forefront of the challenges of tomorrow...
...While this bill purports to be about saving jobs, it would actually be detrimental to our economy and the creation of new jobs in this state. It is also contrary to my administration’s efforts to create a more efficient and effective purchasing system and to increase small business contracting participation. This bill adds additional restrictions on state contractors, thereby resulting in less competition at the state and local levels and ultimately result in higher prices
paid by governmental entities for goods and services...
...In today’s global economy, the best approach to create and enhance job growth in California is to provide a competitive business environment. In order to improve their competitiveness in a global market, California businesses cannot be penalized with punitive policies restricting their ability to make decisions on how to best perform and provide goods or services for state
government and our consumers. These restrictions will drive businesses out of California.
California must continue to be an active participant in the worldwide economy in order to create new opportunities and better jobs for our citizens. This bill is contrary to those goals.
You can read the whole thing in this PDF file.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:38 AM
...is an interesting new blog on (mostly) California politics by longtime Republican consultant Dave Gilliard, who many of you will remember as the operative behind the recall signature campaigned funded by Rep. Issa. The problem with a blog like this is that Gilliard has clients and issues all over the California ballot, and he doesn't disclose those connections in the text. So it's impossible to know when he's giving a straight take and when he's pushing his clients' interests. I guess it is safe to assume it's almost always the latter, but Dave knows a lot, so it's still worth tapping in.
On Wednesday, for instance, he produced a three-part formula for projecting potential Republican strength in Assembly districts, based on the percentage of the vote for Bill Simon in 2002, for the recall in 2003 and voter registration currently. Everyone in the business has their own system like this, and I suspect most of those that are shared in public are kind of like those restaurant dish recipes you see in cooking magazines: a key ingredient is always left out.
Anyway, here's Gilliard's ranking:
1. AD 30 - 154.1 points(Gardner)
2. AD 17 - 140.1 points(McGarry)
3. AD 54 - 138.1 points(Kuykendall)
4. AD 31 - 137.4 points(Bettencourt)
5. AD 61 - 134.5 points(Wapner)
6. AD 53 - 132.0 points(Hill)
7. AD 76 - 125.7 poits (Hunter)
8. AD 35 - 123.7 points (Pohl)
9. AD 21 - 103.0 points(Poizner)
You can read the full item here.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:31 AM
Read this LA Daily News story on the county's $1.4 billion surplus, which just got bigger with the discovery of an extra $300 million county officials didn't know they had. The new money will apparently go for employee pay raises and deferred maintenance on county buildings. The news is not likely to help with the county's campaign asking voters to approve a new half-cent sales tax increase for law enforcement in November.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:28 AM
A slam dunk:
AB 2435 would have allowed the schools to teach the importance of personal finance, including budgeting, saving and credit, something they already can do under existing law. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill and pointed that out. But then he added this twist:
While teaching financial responsibility is important for our children, I would welcome future legislation that requires all members of the State Legislature to complete a course in financial management and responsibility.
Requiring legislators to take a refresher course on managing finances may be the wisest investment the State could ever make. California may never have found itself in the deep fiscal crisis that it has had to endure, if such a requirement were signed into law earlier.
One of the best lessons we can offer to our children, is to practice sound financial principles, and I believe the Legislature should begin teaching kids by example.
To which I might add that, given the level of debt in the budget he signed in July, the governor himself could use a little bit of that tutoring.
NOTE: My veto of the day is not necessarily a policy endorsement. Just a way to highlight where and how the governor is blocking the Legislature's will. Nominations gladly accepted.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:18 PM
The folks at the Insuring The Uninsured Project have published the best analysis I have seen so far of Proposition 72 -- the measure to require employers of 50 or more people to provide health insurance to their workers. The analysis is for junkies only; it is long and detailed and comprehensive. It also fairly describes the likely costs, benefits and gaps in the legislation. Although the project supports Prop. 72, the analysis looks at the measure warts and all. If you really want to know what the debate is all about, read the report here. Click on the link ITUP's Analysis of SB2 & Prop. 72.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:59 PM
Based on my e-mail traffic, it is pretty clear now that there is a fast-moving, nationwide e-whispering campaign going about the potential resumption of a military draft. And John Kerry, trying to tap into the Internet buzz generated by the email chain letters, charged last week that a draft might come back if Bush is reelected. Anything is possible, I suppose. But there's one big problem with that scenario. The bill everyone is talking about -- HR 163 -- is sponsored by five Democrats in Congress who oppose the war and hope a draft would help them broaden the opposition. The fact that it's Democrats who are pushing the draft idea never seems to get mentioned in the e-mails that come my way.
For more details, go here, type in HR 163 and you see a copy of the resolution and its sponsors: Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel from New York, Jim McDermott of Washington, John Lewis from Georgia, Pete Stark of California, and Neil Abercrombie from Hawaii.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:58 AM
US Sen. Barbara Boxer rolls out the first television ad of her reelection campaign against Republican Bill Jones. The ad combines dated home movies with contemporary footage to drive home Boxer's point that health care and college tuition should be more accessible to the middle class. She hopes to make both expenses tax deductible, the ad says, though it doesn't say who, exactly, would make up for the revenue lost to the deductions.
You can see the ad here.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:54 AM
There is in economics something known as the broken window fallacy, and we are seeing it these days in reaction to the Florida hurricanes. The fallacy is that the destruction there will prove to be a boost to the economy because of all the money that will be spent rebuilding. The fallacy gets its name from the common reaction to a young vandal breaking the window of a small town storefront. Here is one version:
Everyone sympathizes with the man whose window was broken, but pretty soon they start to suggest that the broken window makes work for the glazier, who will then buy bread, benefitting the baker, who will then buy shoes, benefitting the cobbler, etc. Finally, the onlookers conclude that the little boy was not guilty of vandalism; instead he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town.
But what both analyses lack is an understanding of the unseen. In the case of the window, the onlookers never consider the things that the shopkeeper would have bought, or invested in, had he not had to pay those costs, and what would have come from those decisions. And in the case of the hurricane, analysts ignore not only what the people now suffering would have spent their money on if they were not rebuilding, but other, distant losses, many of which will never be connected to the storm.
Here is an LA Daily News article on businesses in Southern California, from Disney to Princess Cruises, that stand to lose millions of dollars in business in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Remember them next time you hear what should now be called the hurricane fallacy.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:35 AM
From the weekend...
We all knew Schwarzenegger was going to veto AB 2006, the speaker's bill widely seen as an attempt by Southern California Edison to insulate the company from competition. But more of a surprise was his rejection of another energy bill, SB 1478. That bill would have put into law Schwarzenegger's goal of having 20 percent of the state's electricity produced from renewable energy resources by 2010. It also would have created a limited market in renewable energy credits, which would allow utilities to buy credit for green energy even if they aren't producing it or selling it themselves. I gave that bill a mild endorsement in this column. Shows you how much sway I have in the governor's office. The veto message:
Increasing California’s commitment to renewable electricity is a cornerstone of my administration’s energy and environmental action plans. My action plans outline my goal of accelerating the requirement that 20% of a utility energy portfolio be from renewable sources by 2010 and 33% be from renewable sources by 2020. The California Public Utility Commission (PUC) has acted directing the utilities to meet the accelerated date of compliance during their ongoing procurement planning process. Additionally, the PUC has also acted on my request to establish a loading order for electricity that has conservation and renewable energy sources ahead of traditional fossil fuel.
While I appreciate the author’s intent to codify my action plan acceleration of the
renewable energy portfolio standard, this bill has several omissions and establishes an onerous process that will impede the achievement of this goal. This bill omits municipal utilities which service almost 30% percent of the energy consumed in California from any renewable portfolio requirements. It also creates a renewable credit market that has several onerous restrictions. Finally, it fails to recognize California’s commitment and reliance on an electricity market that includes the entire western region of the country.
I look forward to working with the legislature to continue to increase California’s
commitment to renewable energy. If codification of my action plan is desired, we should strive for legislation that results in a vibrant competitive renewable energy market and works to advance the 20% renewable energy goal by 2010 rather than impede the progress we have made.
For these reasons I am returning this bill without my signature.
NOTE: My veto of the day is not necessarily a policy endorsement. Just a way to highlight where and how the governor is blocking the Legislature's will. Nominations gladly accepted
Posted by dweintraub at 3:10 PM
This is an important story from Southern California about a trend that anyone with a kid in high school knows about: the end of the full-scale research paper. The article tries a couple of times to connect the lack of term papers to the rise of standards in California. But the real reason for the decline of the research paper is stated by the first teacher quoted in the piece:
"Even in some cases, it's difficult to get a complete sentence," Franke said. "If it's multiple choice or matching they'll do it, but if you give any kind of homework assignment that requires them to read and answer questions, they won't do it. It's unbelievable."
I agree. It's unbelievable. But high schoolers today aren't refusing to do tough work because of standards. In fact, the English standards require that they do this kind of work. The reason they're not doing it is because neither the schools nor parents nor the community demands it, and the skills required to produce such a paper have slowly drifted out of the curriculum.
The California standards for 11th grade history include 11 separate benchmarks, each with its own set of sub-topics. If each of those 11 standards is given equal time during a school year, each one could take 14 days of class time, and the teacher would still have several weeks to spare for assemblies, testing, and time wasted at the start and the end of the year.
If you look at the WW II standard, you can imagine a unit that would include some outside reading and conclude with a term paper requiring students to cover several of the points detailed in the standards. Students would have to show the very qualities teachers say they want to teach: understanding, not just memorization, critical thinking, analysis.
Am I dreaming? Of course, given where students are today. But 11th grade students were once capable of doing this kind of work. And they could be, again.
Here is the standard and its sub-points:
11.7 Students analyze America's participation in World War II.
--Examine the origins of American involvement in the war, with an emphasis on the events that precipitated the attack on Pearl Harbor.
--Explain U.S. and Allied wartime strategy, including the major battles of Midway, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Battle of the Bulge.
--Identify the roles and sacrifices of individual American soldiers, as well as the unique contributions of the special fighting forces (e.g., the Tuskegee Airmen, the 442nd Regimental Combat team, the Navajo Code Talkers).
--Analyze Roosevelt's foreign policy during World War II (e.g., Four Freedoms speech).
--Discuss the constitutional issues and impact of events on the U.S. home front, including the internment of Japanese Americans (e.g., Fred Korematsu v. United States of America) and the restrictions on German and Italian resident aliens; the response of the administration to Hitler's atrocities against Jews and other groups; the roles of women in military production; and the roles and growing political demands of African Americans.
--Describe major developments in aviation, weaponry, communication, and medicine and the war's impact on the location of American industry and use of resources.
--Discuss the decision to drop atomic bombs and the consequences of the decision (Hiroshimaand Nagasaki).
--Analyze the effect of massive aid given to Western Europe under the Marshall Plan to rebuild itself after the war and the importance of a rebuilt Europe to the U.S. economy.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:51 PM
Under fire for allegedly spending federal funds on partisan political activity, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has officially announced the first reforms he has put in place to ensure that money meant for new voting technology, voter education and outreach is spent properly.
“We are centralizing our management structure, creating new work processes, establishing new reporting procedures, and developing more detailed compliance rules,” Shelley says in a statement released by his office. “The combination of these measures will ensure our procedures are strict, our processes are clear, and our personnel are more effectively supervised.”
New directives announced by Shelley include:
·All contractors in the field offices have had their contracts terminated pending further review of HAVA protocols, after which some contracts could be renewed;
·Weekly reporting on HAVA activities by regional directors will be established;
·Reporting of work hours by any new HAVA contractors will be completed on specific timesheets and will be reviewed to ensure charges are appropriate;
·Immediate and long-term corrective procedures, practices, and protocols for HAVA are being developed by an independent auditor – and will be implemented;
·Contracts for staff paid partially or fully with HAVA funds will be reviewed for duties and pay;
·Recommendations from other state agencies will be implemented immediately.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:17 PM
This new LA Times Poll says Schwarzenegger is still getting the approval of 66 percent of California voters, but more people are starting to see him as a conservative. Apparently the Campaign for California Families hasn't gotten the word on the governator's alleged turn to the right. That group plans a press conference on the Capitol steps this morning attacking Schwarzenegger for signing "anti-family" bills.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:15 AM
Organized labor and the non-union contractor world have been fighting for years over state-licensed apprenticeship training programs. When the Democrats are in power, they make life miserable for the non-union programs, and Republicans treat those programs more gently. The latest salvo was AB 2837, which would have limited funding to any apprenticeship program that failed to graduate at least one trainee in two years. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill:
This bill is unnecessary. The Labor & Workforce Development Agency and Division of Apprenticeship Standards has recently created a Quality Standards Committee, composed of both union and non-union apprenticeship program sponsors, to work with interested parties on the development of apprenticeship standards. Furthermore, requiring the withholding of reimbursements to apprenticeship programs for supplemental instruction may have the adverse effect on programs in migratory trades, slow-growth trades and highly technical or dangerous trades.
All apprenticeship programs already undergo an approval and oversight process through the Division of Apprenticeship Standards that is responsible for ensuring that these programs function effectively. Students or others who are concerned about the quality of any specific programs should bring their concerns to the Division.
NOTE: My veto of the day is not necessarily a policy endorsement. Just a way to highlight where and how the governor is blocking the Legislature's will. Nominations gladly accepted.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:46 PM
Some readers have told me there is considerable confusion, even in the Capitol, about the rules that govern impeachment. Here is Article 4, Section 18, of the state Constitution:
SEC. 18. (a) The Assembly has the sole power of impeachment. Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate. A person may not be convicted unless, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two thirds of the membership of the Senate concurs. (b) State officers elected on a statewide basis, members of the State Board of Equalization, and judges of state courts are subject to impeachment for misconduct in office. Judgment may extend only to removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the State, but the person convicted or acquitted remains subject to criminal punishment according to law.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:20 AM
The Sacramento Bee today called on Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to resign, or be impeached:
The Shelley scandals have surfaced at a time when citizens' faith in our voting system already has been shaken badly by the 2000 Florida presidential election debacle. If there is a close election in California this year, involving either the presidential race or one of the numerous propositions on the ballot, Shelley is the one whose public face will preside over the recount.
He is so badly tainted by his own actions that the public cannot have confidence in his judgment. For the good of the state and of democracy, he should have the grace to resign. If he doesn't, the Legislature should take steps to restore the public's trust by doing for California what Shelley will not.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:15 AM
A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds that 61 percent of Californians approve of Schwarzenegger's performance as governor. Also: Kerry and Boxer maintain big leads in the state.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:10 AM
AB 2895 would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. Schwarzenegger said long ago that he would not sign the bill. Today, he vetoed it. Here is his message:
To Members of the California State Assembly:
I am returning Assembly Bill 2895 without my signature.
One of the most important duties of the Governor of a state is to protect its citizens. Determining the true identity and history of an individual is a key component of that protection. This bill does not adequately address the security concerns that my Department of Homeland Security and I have and I cannot support it.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:00 PM
The legislative analyst weighs in on the recently enacted state budget, and opines that her earlier projections for a $6 billion budget gap next year and $8 billion the year after will likely be too low. But the report doesn't offer any new estimates of the shortfall. You can find the full document here.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:30 AM
Did the artificial turf beneath Schwarzenegger's smoking tent contribute to the weekend flooding in his Capitol office suite?
Posted by dweintraub at 6:52 AM
Kevin Shelley's hole gets a little bit deeper. Documents released yesterday show that consultants hired with federal "Help America Vote" money accompanied Shelley to partisan political events and later filed reports on those events for his office. Here is a story in the Bee.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:50 AM
Rudy Giuliani seems to campaign as much in California these days as any other Republican. Maybe he should move here and run for something. Anyway, he's at it again. For Bill Jones this time. Thursday in Santa Monica. Friday in Sacramento.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:59 AM
Interesting column by my colleague Diana Griego Erwin on Iraqi women who are touring the US to build support for a war they definitely see as liberating.
"When I come here and watch TV, I think this is the end of Iraq. It's over," al-Suwaij said. In Iraq, however, she sees a country "taking baby steps" toward democracy. She says the economy is booming. Schools are improving. Women fill 25 percent of elected positions, a milestone not seen even in the United States.
"Yes, security is a problem and sometimes there is no electricity and no water," al-Suwaij said, "but at the end of the day when we put our head on the pillow, Saddam is gone and that alone brings us great satisfaction. That allows us hope."
The women meet with Schwarzenegger today.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:40 AM
You can download here a file containing the transcript of Schwarzenegger's interview Friday on KFBK radio in Sacramento, where he complains about Democrats jamming him with "silly" bills and foreshadows a veto of a Canadian drug importation bill and, possibly, a measure to reform the state's public school "categorical" programs. He says the bill does not go far enough.
Posted by dweintraub at 8:09 AM
Left over from Saturday.
SB 1056, which would have required local governments to complete "economic impact reports" before approving big-box retail superstores.
The veto message:
This measure places unnecessary, burdensome restrictions on businesses attempting to expand in California. Local communities are already free to decide between rejecting or embracing any retail development. By requiring the approval of an economic impact report prior to approval of a development project that includes a “superstore retailer,” this bill would create a system of costly hurdles that these retailers would need to overcome before opening a new facility in a city or county.
The declared intent of this bill is “to promote market competition and economic
development,” but instead it would stifle market competition and expansion of
employment within California. Such negative economic impacts run contrary to my continuing efforts to encourage business development and create a better economic climate within California.
For these reasons I am unable to support this measure.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:17 AM
AB 2832 would have raised the state minimum wage by $1, to $7.75 an hour.
The veto message:
This bill would raise California’s minimum wage to a level that would be the highest in the nation. According to the Employment Development Department, this will increase the costs to California employers by at least $3 billion, and as much as $4.4 billion.
In recent years, the high cost of doing business in California has driven away jobs, businesses, and opportunity. We have launched California’s recovery by making our state a more attractive place to do business, so that employers will stay in our state, expand in our state, and create more jobs here.
Now is not the time to create barriers to our economic recovery or reverse the momentum we have generated. I want to create more jobs and make every California job more secure.
For these reasons, I am unable to support this measure.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:16 PM
AB 2339 was a classic case of legislative micro-management, a measure that would have required that the UC Regents, CSU Trustees, and state Board of Education arrange their schedules so that they never meet on the same days. Schwarzenegger's response: no need to meddle.
The bill is unnecessary. I see no reason why a bill needs to be enacted into law that dictates the coordination of meeting schedules.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:31 PM
If soaring corporate profits are the flipside of a "jobless recovery," then taxes on those profits are the silver lining for the state treasury. Preliminary numbers from the Franchise Tax Board suggest that corporate tax collections in September have already exceeded projections for the entire month by 10 percent and $150 million, with nine days of payments still to trickle in. And collections are ahead of last September's numbers by 15 percent and more than $200 million.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:44 PM
Is Schwarzenegger a victim of his own success? Gale Kaufman, who is running campaigns for the Assembly Democrats, says she is not too worried about the big guy's coat tails. One reason: since he has been governor, voters are feeling better about the Legislature, and her candidates.
"The Legislature because of him being there is actually more popular than it was under the last governor," Kaufman said at a briefing for Capitol reporters this morning.
Kaufman said that, thanks to cooperation between Democrats and the governor on a number of fronts, "People are feeling better about the way government is running." Thus they are less likely to want to throw the bums out.
And after Schwarzenegger gets done vetoing Democrat bills popular with voters, Kaufman believes, his ability to sway votes in her clients' districts will shrink even more.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:00 PM
The governor has reappointed Elaine M. Howle as state auditor. Smart move.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:00 PM
Schwarzenegger names Mary Ann Warmerdam, a former longtime staffer at the California Farm Bureau, to head his department of Pesticide Regulation. She has also worked for the Association of Rural Counties and for PG&E.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:46 PM
Voucher proponent Alan Bonsteel writes here in the Bee that 15 percent of Sacramento public school teachers send their kids to private schools, compared to 10 percent for the general population.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:41 PM
AB 649, by Patricia Wiggins, would have committed the state to increasing the budget for the developmentally disabled by the amount of any funds received from the federal government, rather than using the savings to offset general fund shortfalls elsewhere in the budget.
Excerpt from the veto message:
This bill will limit the State’s flexibility to manage the budget by preventing the State from offsetting General Fund expenditures for community-based services to the developmentally disabled with increased federal funds. Receipt of additional federal funds gives the State flexibility to continue General Fund investments in services or to offset General Fund expenditures according to fiscal and policy priorities. This flexibility to manage resources is particularly important during times of fiscal crisis. Given the current fiscal challenges facing California, it is critical that the State maintain all potential options for balancing the budget.
This Administration is committed to increasing California’s share of federal funding, and our State agencies and departments continue to explore ways to maximize federal funds. The DDS and the DHS have been working on several projects to maximize federal funds for the developmental services system. The 2004 Budget continues to provide resources to the DDS to increase federal funds in several areas.
For the reason stated above I cannot sign this measure.
Posted by dweintraub at 8:27 PM
Schwarzenegger has appointed a new crew atop the Department of Toxic Substance Control. They are B.B. Blevins as director, Leonard Robinson as chief deputy, Tim Swickard as chief counsel and Ann Boynton as deputy director for external affairs. Bios here.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:27 PM
The Finance Department report on August revenues is in. Cash for the month was right on target, $122 million above a forecast of $5.3 billion. Of continuing interest is the strength in withholding from wages and salaries, which is tracking with forecasts about 10 percent above last year's levels. Since withholding is outpacing the growth in employment, it seems to suggest that those who are working are making quite a bit more money than they did a year ago. More on this later.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:44 AM
Retiring CHP Commissioner says here that he will not take a disability retirement, and that he only applied for one as a "hedge" in case the state refused to pay medical bills associated with his workers comp claims. The new chief, meanwhile, plans an investigation into the extent of disability abuse at the Highway Patrol.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:26 AM
As public pension bills go, SB 1601 was pretty mild. It simply clarified that public safety employees who buy back time in their pension systems to cover time spent working in other law enforcement jobs would be paid for that time at the same (higher) rate as their regular pension. Schwarzenegger vetoed it, signalling, I think, that he will probably veto every pension increase bill that comes down the pike this year, and perhaps for many years to come.
Excerpts from his message:
Government Agencies at all levels are struggling to meet their pension obligations due to a number of factors including poor stock market performances, higher retirement benefits given to public employees, increases in disability-related retirements, salary increases and longer life expectancy of retired employees.
This bill impacts counties that operate retirement systems subject to the County
Employees’ Retirement Act of 1937. Specifically, this measure allows retiring members to receive a lump sum payment in lieu of monthly payments and requires safety members be paid retroactively based on new enhanced safety member formulas.
By mandating these additional benefits, this bill puts yet another fiscal strain on local governments. This bill does not allow a local jurisdiction the option to make the decision to include prior year’s service, instead it mandates the retroactive payment of the benefit.
As such, this bill represents another increase in local government employee benefits at a time when the ability for counties to pay higher contributions is in question.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:03 PM
Schwarzenegger has just named a new chief for the Highway Patrol, replacing the soon-to-retire Spike Helmick. The new commissioner will be Michael Brown, a 27-year veteran of the department and current chief of the Southern Division. Brown is known around the Capitol because he coordinated the department's legislative activities in the 1990s and also served as chief of the Protective Services Bureau.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:21 AM
The governor has signed AB 2208, a gay rights bill requiring insurance companies to treat same-sex domestic partners the same as spouses.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:24 PM
SB 1419, by Sen. John Vasconcellos, sought to establish a new school rating system reflecting the "opportunity to learn." The OTL index would have tried to measure "access to high-quality learning resources, conditions, and opportunities, based on standards that specify what all schools should have available for instruction or support." The bill represented the hope of Vasconcellos and other Democrats to supplement the academic standards-based assessment system now in place with a broader measure that would help explain some of the results on standardized tests.
Said the governor:
The state’s current Academic Performance Index (API) provides high quality public data on schools’ academic performance. The accountability system provides a “similar schools rank”, which compares a school to 100 other schools with similar school ranking. This allows parents and other stakeholders to see how a school compares with other schools that have the same challenges. Additionally, this bill is redundant to the School Accountability Report Card (SARC) as most of the indicators contained in this bill are also contained in the SARC. For these reasons, I am unable to support this bill.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:47 PM
Controller Steve Westly today is ordering $15 million returned to the general fund from the state Parks Department after an audit of grants awarded by the Legislature since 1999. Westly said grants totalling that amount had missed deadlines in state law for their disbursement.
"We found problems every step of the way," Westly said in a statement. "Some groups didn't know they were getting a grant. Others didn't know what to do with it. It's time to pull the plug. Today, we are taking action to save up to $15 million in taxpayer funds, and fix a process that's broken."
The review came after disclosures that money given as a grant to a San Francisco community center appeared to have been used to contribute more than $100,000 to the campaign of Secretary of State Kevin Shelley.
According to Westly, his review found:
*Grant recipients missed the deadline for spending up to $15
million in grant funds.
*Lawmakers failed to spell out the purposes of individual grants, making proper accountability virtually impossible.
*Parks officials did not properly oversee all grant projects.
*Parks officials made advance grant payments to recipients without formal policies and procedures to monitor spending.
*Parks officials audited very few grants.
Westly also made several recommendations for reforming the grant process.
UPDATE: Here is the Parks Department's response:
The Department of Parks and Recreation agrees with the Controller’s Office that there is a problem with legislators dictating how money is spent without oversight. However, we respectively disagree with the Controller’s overall assessment of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s grants process.
State Parks has policies in place, and given the financial constraints imposed by the Legislature, has the maximum oversight possible for administration of these grants. The amount of money that Parks is allowed to retain for management of legislator’s grants is not sufficient to allow for adequate oversight of the process.
These grants are legislator’s grants. They are legislatively controlled and they are delivered by legislators, through government agencies, to constituents the legislature deems worthy.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:56 PM
Somehow, I don't think defining the term "takeout" in the horseracing industry is exactly what Schwarzenegger had in mind when he ran for governor. Here is a message explaining his veto of AB 3083, a bill that is all too typical of what legislators -- and thus the governor -- do with much of their time:
To the Members of the California State Assembly:
I am returning Assembly Bill 3083 without my signature.
This bill has the commendable goal of clarifying horseracing law. However, it adds a second definition of “Advance Deposit Wagering,” that is slightly different to the existing definition in Business and Professions Code 19604. While the meaning is probably the same, I see no need to update the law in a potentially confusing manner.
“Takeout” is a commonly used term in the industry, but it is not used in current law. There is no need to codify it at this time.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:55 AM
California unemployment plummetted in August to 5.8 percent, its lowest level since Sept. 2001, even as employers added a net of just 3,100 new jobs for the month. The separate survey of households showed a gain of 23,000 jobs during the month. Unemployment was 6.2 percent in July. Information services, interestingly, added more than 5,000 jobs, the most of any industry group. The full EDD release is here.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:05 PM
Fifteen percent of the population lacks a family doctor, severly impeding their access to care. Patients are flooding emergency rooms because, for many, that's the only place they can be seen by a physician. Meanwhile, government commissions are convening in search of answers to what ails the health care system.
Says one frustrated patient:
"If you are not bleeding all over the place, you are put on the back burner, unless of course you have money or know somebody."
California? Nope. Canada. According to the the New York Times.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:15 PM
Joel Kotkin coins a new term to describe the Democrats' power center, the coalition of academics, celebreties and millionaires who now seem to dominate the party:
Look at Kerry's chief supporters and you see a new kind of elite, a veritable "hip-ocracy" of high-tech tycoons, Hollywood moguls and celebrities, and a bevy of Wall Street financiers. This group is bolstered by Americans with graduate degrees and a growing number of college and university faculty members.
These core Kerry constituencies, the technical and professional intelligentsia, increasingly show signs of seeing themselves as a new social elite, what urban guru Richard Florida has anointed as the nation' s "creative class." Most make their homes in the peculiarly elitist economies of post-industrial metropolises such as greater Boston, Manhattan, San Francisco and the west side of Los Angeles, where the definition of middle class often comes with a million-dollar-plus mortgage, a PhD and, often enough, more than a few pence handed down from the parents. Kerry, a Yale graduate identified by Burke's Peerage as having more royal blood than any presidential candidate in U.S. history, educated in Swiss boarding schools and married to his second heiress, is an almost-too-perfect representative of this new class.
The danger for the party, Kotkin says, is that the Democrat elites are increasingly losing touch with the middle-class suburban voters who will hold sway in this and future elections. Read the whole thing here.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:38 PM
Schwarzenegger is coming out today officially in favor of Prop. 64, which would limit lawsuits against business, and against Prop. 72, which seeks to require all employers of 50 or more people to provide health insurance for their workers.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:09 PM
How does California's tax burden rank among the states? It depends on how you measure it. According to this national study of census data by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, California in 2002 ranked:
21st in total state and local taxes and fees per $1,000 of personal income ($157.02)
17th if you count only taxes and not fees ($106.01)
13th in personal income taxes ($29.09)
24th in sales and excise taxes ($36.59)
36th in property taxes (26.62)
Measured on a population basis, California ranked:
9th in state and local taxes and fees per capita ($5,096)
9th if you count only taxes per capita and not fees ($3,440)
9th in personal income taxes per capita ($944)
14th in sales and excise taxes per capita ($1,187)
30th in property taxes per capita ($864)
According to this study, the only California rankings that have changed dramatically since 1992 are property taxes per capita, which fell from 22nd to 30th, property taxes per $1,000 of personal income, which fell from 27th to 36th, and income taxes per $1,000 of personal income, which rose from 18th in 1992 to 6th in 2000 before falling back to 13th in 2002.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:57 AM
Schwarzenegger has signed AB 2032 to permit San Diego and Bay Area counties to conduct additional demonstration projects using HOT lanes, which allow single-occupant vehicles to use car pool lanes by paying a toll. Such lanes already in existence in San Diego reduce congestion in the free lanes while raising money for new transportation projects.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:33 AM
From the Contra Costa Times:
Contra Costa County's retirement expenses will spike next year by $30 million, 10 times more than County Administrator John Sweeten predicted in the spring.
The new figure reflects the true price of enhanced retirement benefits that supervisors approved in 2002. Contra Costa's retirement board updated the county's annual retirement costs on Wednesday after a presentation by actuary Drew James.
"Today in Contra Costa the chickens have come home to roost," said Treasurer Bill Pollacek, who sits on the retirement board. "Now we all know how much the benefits really cost."
Up to now, the county's pension expenses have been based on unrealistic assumptions adopted three years ago by a labor-dominated retirement board, as the Times first reported in 2003. The board, which administers $3 billion in pension assets for the county and 15 special districts, changed its assumptions in July.
Read the whole thing here (registration required).
Posted by dweintraub at 9:15 AM
Backers of Prop. 70, the Indian gaming deregulation initiative, have picked up endorsements from Sen. Jim Brulte and state schools Supt. Jack O'Connell in the past week. Today they say they'll get the support of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and Lew Uhler, a conservative activist who has been a big supporter of term limits and tax cuts as president of the National Tax Limitation Committee. Prop. 70, while allowing unlimited expansion of gambling on Indian lands, would also make the Indians' earnings subject to a levy equivalent to the corporate income tax. It will be interesting to hear why two groups that champion lower taxes will advocate for higher taxes on the tribes.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:48 AM
From the governor's office:
· Gov. Schwarzenegger has acted on 428 bills, signing 389 and vetoing 39 bills. This number includes extraordinary session bills.
· We anticipate receiving 841 bills passed in the last days of the legislative session. As of September 8, the Governor's office has received 626 bills. The remainder of the bills are still in enrollment.
· The total number of bills that Gov. Schwarzenegger will act on from Nov. 17, 2003 through the end of the month is 1,269.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:47 PM
Most big-ticket modern campaigns now feature a mouthpiece who specializes in sending e-mails to reporters flogging the opposition. For the Assembly Democrats, that attack-dog role now belongs to Steve Maviglio, once the mild-mannered press secretary to former Gov. Gray Davis. And if you don't think Schwarzenegger has the Dems at least a little bit spooked, think again. One of Maviglio's first missives was a multi-point screed accusing Schwarzenegger of being a serial liar, accompanied by a picture of the gov with his nose morphed into something from Pinocchio.
Here's the punchline:
But this weekend’s might top it all. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger departed New York City on Thursday afternoon, his flacks told reporters he would return to California that night. He had bills raising the minimum wage and providing low cost drugs to seniors to veto, and it was important for him to get back. But instead he jetted off to Sun Valley because, according to his press secretary, “he likes to be flexible.” (LA Times, 9/7/04). Particularly when it comes to telling the truth.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:33 PM
Here is my colleague Dan Walters' latest take on why $450 million Schwarzenegger plugged into his budget is entirely phony. And here is my earlier account of the same issue -- the state's decision to try to take a large share of punitive damage awards in lawsuit judgments.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:05 AM
One of my favorite niche legal stories is back in the news again: the US Supreme Court is poised to decide whether farmers can be forced to cough up fees to pay for group marketing that they believe goes against their own interests. Imagine if the state forced every newspaper to pay into a fund to advertise newspaper reading to the general public. Ridiculous? The same thing has been going on in agriculture for years.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:59 AM
The jobs numbers released Friday reported 42,000 new jobs last month in the health care (and social assistance) sector nationwide. Meanwhile, this story in Saturday's Bee disclosed plans by UC Davis Medical Center to invest $500 million in new facilities and equipment in the Sacramento region in the next five years. New jobs, new buildings, new equipment, all are evidence that we are, as a community and as a nation, spending more on health care. That's a trend that, in the abstract, is almost universally decried. But more jobs and more buildings are, generally, applauded. So, is this good news, or bad news?
Posted by dweintraub at 7:43 AM
USC Professor and former Dukakis manager Susan Estrich says Democrats are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Estrich says she and her friends are raising money for an all out sliming of Bush and Cheney that will include allegations of (more) drunken driving and alcoholism, womanizing and abortions, and testimonials about dead Texans who went to Vietnam while Bush stayed home. Somehow, I don't think this is going to work. It's hard to see how asking "if any alcoholic is ever really cured" will endear these Kerry allies -- or their candidate -- to the electorate, or even make voters feel less kindly toward Bush. I guess we'll just have to see.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:22 AM
Posted by dweintraub at 4:07 PM
The Department of Finance has agreed to the release of about $15 million in federal funds under the Help America Vote Act frozen after questions were raised about Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's administration of the money. Finance says all parties have agreed that this is all the money needed for projects ready for the November election. You can download a copy of the finance letter here.
NOTE: An earlier version of this item said another $17 million remained frozen. That money hasn't been approved, but technically, it is no longer frozen.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:02 AM
Some Austrians are questioning Schwarzenegger's memory of Soviet tanks and socialism.
UPDATE: Del Mar reader F points out that the AP story doesn't really refute or contradict anything in Schwarzenegger's speech:
Arnold mentioned "...we had to cross into the Soviet sector" clearly implying he did not live in the Soviet Sector. Soviets occupied part of Austria until 1955 when Arnold was 8 years old.
Arnold said "I saw the socialist country that Austria became..." He did not say the Socialist Party was in power, but Austria was certainly a socialist country in 1968. Perhaps, Arnold could be corrected in the fact that Austria was already a Socialist Country when he was born, but I think this would be nit picking.
Others will debate F's definition of socialism. But he says some Austrian industries were nationalized after the war, and cites this web site (link to privatization) as evidence.
Posted by dweintraub at 8:07 AM
I guess Spanish-language media mogul Jerry Perenchio liked what he saw Tuesday. He dropped a quarter-million-dollar donation on Schwarzenegger's campaign committee on Wednesday. The record is here, at the Secretary of State's site. Also, and more conveniently viewed here, at electiontrack.com
Posted by dweintraub at 4:49 PM
The Rasmussen Reports is out today with national numbers on Schwarzenegger's favorability ratings, which are good but not great. They have him at 55 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable. That's a pretty high unfavorable number for a guy who's never been attacked on the national stage.
The poll's other numbers:
Posted by dweintraub at 4:18 PM
AP has moved an interesting story detailing Chevron's influence on the recommendations of Schwarzenegger's California Performance Review.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:59 PM
Don't be surprised if you start hearing a lot more about a hospital crisis in the weeks and months ahead. The folks who run California's private hospitals say they are buried in uninsured patients while struggling to meet new state-imposed nurse-to-patient ratios and deal with state mandates on seismic safety. Now they're appealing to Schwarzenegger for help. Here is a copy of the letter the association just sent the governor laying out their beefs.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:43 PM
Seems just a bit premature, but Larry Kudlow at National Review and Michael Rosen at Tech Central Station weigh in on the prospect of an Arnold candidacy.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:10 AM
The Chronicle reports that television ratings spiked for Schwarzenegger's speech, pushing viewership higher than the average for the Democratic convention and for the first three nights of the 2000 Republican gathering.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:23 AM
The pundit world, including the blogosphere, is still buzzing about Arnold's speech. And a lot of people picked up on his reference to the Nixon-Humphrey "race" in 1968. A lot of people also assumed he was talking about a debate, and have pointed out correctly that there was no televised presidential debate that year. See Kos here.
We've been through this already in California, though. Schwarzenegger used to tell different versions of this story, at times saying he simply heard the candidates laying out their positions and at other times referring to a debate. After it was pointed out that this couldn't have been the case, he stopped mentioning debates. And Tuesday night, he referred to "the race."
So, whether you choose to believe him or not, the story as he tells it now is historically credible.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:10 PM
Schwarzenegger rejected AB 1707, by the Judiciary Committee, which would have quadrupled fines on state and local governments for unintentional violations of the Disabled Persons Act, which applies to publicly owned buildings. Instead of raising fines on the owners of public buildings that fail to provide proper access, the governor says the state should look for ways to encourage both public and private owners to do the right thing short of fines and lawsuits.
"The public policy goal should be to ensure public and private facilities are open to those with disabilties, not to penalize business financially for unintended violations that can easily be corrected once (the owner is) put on notice."
Posted by dweintraub at 6:38 AM