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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« June 2006 | | August 2006 »
July 31, 2006

Who needs to be president?

Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed an agreement with Tony Blair committing California and Great Britain to work together to fight global warming.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:44 PM

Prop. 89 opposition

A dream team of campaign consultants has been assembled to fight Prop. 89, the public financing initiative on the November ballot. Among them: Gale Kaufman, the Democratic consultant who led the campaign to defeat Schwarzenegger's special election initiatives; Goddard Clausen, which helped kill off the universal preschool initiative in June; and the firm of veteran initiative man Frank Schubert. Among the interest groups lining up against the measure are the California Teachers Assn., the California State Council of Laborers and the California Chamber of Commerce. Almost makes you want to support it. Last week, the League of Women Voters and California Common Cause did just that.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:26 AM

Rogan to get judgeship

The governor says he intends to appoint former Congressman James Rogan to a Superior Court judgeship in Orange County on Oct. 1. Not sure why he is announcing his intentions, rather than waiting until the position is open, other than to curry favor with conservative Republicans in advance of the election. Rogan is a hero in some circles for his leadership of the effort to impeach former President Bill Clinton. He's also a very smart, friendly guy with a very interesting personal story who remains on good terms with a lot of Democrats despite his role in the partisan wars.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:22 AM

July 27, 2006

Democrat disaffection

Like the Field Poll the other day, today's PPIC poll numbers on the governor's race (43-30 for Schwarzenegger) largely reflect the fact that Republicans are united behind Schwarzenegger while many Democrats have yet to settle on Angelides. In this poll, Republicans support the governor by a margin of 79-3. Democrats, however, back Angelides by a comparatively paltry margin of 54-16, thanks largely to the residue of his bitter primary with Steve Westly.

If, as seems likely, Angelides is able to get his party behind him, he will inevitably close the overall gap. If Angelides could get his numbers closer to, say, 75-12 among Democrats, Schwarzenegger's lead would shrink to single digits and maybe even low single digits. (Watch at that point for the inevitable "momentum shifts" comeback stories.)

Then it would come down largely to a battle of turning out their core supporters and competing for the independents. The Field Poll had the independents evenly split. PPIC has them 43-25 for the governor. If that margin is accurate and it holds, it won't matter how well Angelides does with the Dems, he won't win.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:08 PM

'Jobless' recovery

This LA Times story has some interesting new data from the Census Bureau on the surge in the number of "nonemployers" -- businesses that hire only independent contractors. Business owners say they are doing it to avoid the hassles -- and expense-- of workers' comp, health insurance, and the like, and to make it easier to ride through downturns without having to lay people off. But some workers interviewed by The Times say they also like the new arrangement because it gives them the freedom to control their own hours and work for more than one employer.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:37 AM

How green is your governor

Since his first run for governor in 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger has tried to act like, and promote himself as, a green Republican. On alternative fuels, global warming, offshoe oil drilling, forest protection and other issues, he has staked out turf well to the left of his GOP colleagues, even if he did not always satisfy the Sierra Club. For more than two years, none of that seemed to change the public's view of him. Now, apparently, it has. This new PPIC poll shows that voters are beginning to raise their rating of his performance on environmental issues. And it's not just Democrats. Many California Republicans are perfectly comfortable with a more aggressive, interventionist government when it comes to protecting the environment.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:31 AM

July 26, 2006

Mad at illegal immigrants?

Jon Fleischman, taking on the governor, says we should be mad at illegal immigrants who break the law to come here, not just at the federal government for failing to secure the borders:

I actually DO get quite mad at those people who violate our laws to come into the United States. A major component of my world-view is the idea of individual responsibility. To say that one should blame the government for not enforcing a law instead of blaming the law-breaker is very disturbing position to take. Clearly it would be ideal if our government could enforce all of its laws on the books. But the liberty and freedom we enjoy as Americans depends on our people following the laws of the land without having to be policed. As Alexander de Toqueville observed about this country, "America is great because America is good. When she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."

My take is that illegal immigration, in and of itself, is a victimless crime. If people come here to work, which most illegal immigrantsdo, they are going to engage in a voluntary exchange of their labor for someone else's money. They are not stealing, and, as a group, they are helping our economy, even if a few people at the lower end of the wage scale see their wages bid down. Illegal immigrants are also not harming legal immigrants or anyone "in line" to enter the country legally. The number of legal immigrants is set without any reference to the number who enter without documentation.

I wonder what I would do, or what Fleischman would do, if we had had the misfortune to be born poor on the "wrong" side of the border, and we knew there was opportunity in the United States to better our lives and the lives of our families. Would we simply ignore that opportunity? Or would we do everything we could to take advantage of it?

Or to offer a more extreme example, what if, next year, the courts ruled that blogs were not protected by the First Amendment, and the government outlawed them. Would Fleischman, out of a respect for "personal responsibility," simply stop trying to communicate his views in this way? Or would his sense of justice compel him to disobey that law, because his actions are not, in fact, harming anyone?

When the governor said we shouldn't be "mad" at people who come here illegally, I don't think he was talking about people who steal, or even people who take advantage of our welfare state. He was talking about people who come here for economic opportunity. I'm not mad at them, either.

UPDATE: Fleischman responds. He says he's as mad at the welfare state as he is at the illegal immigrants.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:03 PM

SF health plan approved

San Francisco has given final approval to its universal health care plan. This story from a month ago said small businesses that don't provide insurance would have to pay a tax of about $1 per hour for each hour worked by a non-management employee. That's $200 a month for a full-time worker. Since that's probably less than most private insurance plans cost, I wonder if some employers will see this as a way to get out of the business of health care by dropping coverage and urging their employees to enroll in the city plan.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:28 AM

Using the minimum wage to fight immigration

In this New York Times opinion piece, Michael Dukakis and UCLA Professor Daniel Mitchell argue that the best way to fight illegal immigration would be to raise the minimum wage and enforce it strictly. This, they argue, would reduce employment opportunities for illegals by eliminating some low-wage jobs and making the jobs that remain more attractive to U.S. citizens.

An excerpt:

But if we want to reduce illegal immigration, it makes sense to reduce the abundance of extremely low-paying jobs that fuels it. If we raise the minimum wage, it’s possible some low-end jobs may be lost; but more Americans would also be willing to work in such jobs, thereby denying them to people who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place. And tough enforcement of wage rules would curtail the growth of an underground economy in which both illegal immigration and employer abuses thrive.

This is another way of saying that raising the minimum wage hurts low-skilled workers by denying them the opportunity to grab hold of the first rung of the economic ladder. It's just that in this case, the authors think that result would be a good thing, because some of the opportunities denied would be to illegal immigrants.

Posted by dweintraub at 6:02 AM

July 25, 2006

Arena tax headed to ballot

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has taken the first step toward asking voters to increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent to pay for a new arena for the NBA's Kings. The Kings would pay an average of $4 million per year in rent for 30 years and would get to manage the arena and keep all proceeds from parking, concessions and rent to other tenants. I think this would be a better deal for the public if we simply built the arena and let the Kings play there for free, while we kept all the revenue other than their tickets sales. But I don't think they want to play in a new arena for free. They want us to pay them to play there.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:34 PM

What he knew and when he knew it

If there is a black-out this week or later this summer, the evaluations of Schwarzenegger's performance will begin with an assessment of what the situation was when he took office. In that case, this document will come in handy. It is the grid manager's five-year outlook for electricity supply and demand, published on Oct. 10 2003.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:46 PM

The gov puts La Mesa on the map

The governor this morning took his bus tour into my home town -- the San Diego suburb of La Mesa -- and hosted an open air town hall meeting a couple of blocks from my childhood home. He should have checked with me first. I could have warned him. Here is Carla Marinucci's report on the craziness that transpired.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:01 PM

Gender gap in governor's race

Interesting number buried in today's Field Poll shows that Phil Angelides is suffering from a gender gap. He trails badly among men.

Among women, Schwarzenegger leads his opponent 43-41.

But among men, the governor's advantage swells to 47-34.

By the way, here is the link to that Zogby poll from the other day that showed Angelides with a narrow lead.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:36 PM

Gov cancels Mexico trip

The governor is cancelling a planned trade mission to Mexico because, his press secretary says, he does not want to go while the country is trying to figure out who its next president will be. He now hopes to go in November.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:53 PM

Crying wolf

Phil Angelides is saying today that there have been "blackouts throughout the state" and that those blackouts, of course, are the governor's fault.

If there were any blackouts, Schwarzenegger would definitely be on the hot seat, as he once famously guaranteed that the lights would stay on as long as he was governor.

But there have not been any blackouts.

On Monday, the state asked some businesses to reduce their usage, as those businesses agreed to do when they contracted for cheaper electricity throughout the year in exchange for agreeing to power down on hot days. That's known as demand management and is a widely used economic tool for shifting usage during peak times.

Also on Monday, the LA Times reports, some equipment failures in Los Angeles shut down power to a few thousand homes in scattered areas. These are not blackouts caused by a shortage of electricity. Even if the state had 10 times more electricity than it needed, you couldn't get it to people served by a transformer that went on the blink.

Besides, those failures were in the service area of the LA Department of Water and Power, an entity largely free of state control and just the kind of public power agency of which Angelides has always been a big supporter.

So it's just silly to call these blackouts, or to blame the state.

Schwarzenegger probably has not been aggressive enough in ensuring that enough power plants are built to serve California's fast-growing population. He will be lucky if he escapes another summer without true blackouts.

But Angelides is never going to be taken seriously as a challenger if he continues to invent crises that don't exist just so he can blame them on the incumbent.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:48 PM

Hire-your-own journalism

Here is an interesting new development in journalism: the public thinks of the story ideas, assigns journalists and pays them. It's got seed money from the MacArthur Foundation and the founder of Craig's list. Keep your eye on it.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:58 AM

Nearly real time power picture


This graph shows the state's projection this morning for electricity supply and demand today. Once again, demand is expected to peak a little short of supply. But it's a close call, and so far this morning, actual demand has been higher than projected. You can see the up-to-the-minute projection here.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:44 AM

July 24, 2006

Electricity status report

Managers of the state’s power grid said this morning that they expect electricity usage to peak at 52,000 megawatts this afternoon, 3,000 more than the record set on Friday. Friday’s record, in turn, was 2,500 more megawatts than had been used just four days before. Officials said power plant outages expected today were on the low side, and imports from elsewhere in the west were high, which might enable the state to get by without any rolling blackouts. It is possible that big consumers who have contracted in advance to interrupt their power usage in a shortage will have to be called upon to shut down their operations.

Officials said the 52,000 megawatts expected today compares to 41,000 at peak during the 2001 electricity crisis, and because of changes in the configuration of the grid, a more apt comparison would be 37,000 megawatts back then.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:11 AM

Power outages

Today could be the most important day so far in the 2006 race for governor -- if weather forecasts and energy projections are accurate. The Bee is reporting that the state could face rolling blackouts as Northern California heads for a record-tying nine straight days over 100 degrees. Mondays are traditionally peak usage days during heat waves as people return to work, fire up equipment and use extra air to cool offices baked over the weekend. If all of that strains the system to the breaking point and some parts of the state lose their power, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will have a lot of explaining to do.

Seven members of the governor's administration are scheduled to brief the media on the situation later this morning.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:02 AM

July 22, 2006

Approval ratings for governors

Here are the latest state-by-state approval ratings for governors from Survey USA. Schwarzenegger is at 40 percent, just behind Kathleen Blanco.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:20 AM

July 21, 2006

State adds 11,000 jobs

The state's unemployment rate dipped a tenth of a point in June as employers added 11,000 jobs.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:06 PM

July 20, 2006

City, county reach arena deal with Kings

The Bee is reporting that Sacramento County voters will be asked to approve a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax in November to pay for a new arena for the NBA's Sacramento Kings, plus other amenities countywide.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:24 PM

Report: state not tracking union release time

The Inspector General has concluded that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has failed to properly track paid release time granted to employees for union business, costing the state millions of dollars. The report is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:06 PM

July 19, 2006

WalMart health care law blocked

A federal judge has overturned the Maryland law that sought to force WalMart to provide health insurance coverage to more of its employees. A similar proposal is pending in California.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:05 PM

The state of the race

In the last few days a bunch of people have asked me for my take of the governor's race as it now stands. Conventional wisdom seems to be shifting toward a sense that Angelides is in big trouble, or even that he is out of it. I'm not ready to go there, but I do think he has his work cut out for him.

If the next couple of polls confirm what appears to be the latest trend -- independents have returned to the governor's camp -- then that presents a big problem for Phil. Independents helped elected Schwarzenegger in 2003, then drifted away from him last year, during the special election. If they have come home, then it is going to be very difficult for Angelides to pry them loose again with campaign promises, ads and what have you. The big news Schwarzenegger is likely to make between now and the end of the year will involve prescription drugs, global warming and the minimum wage. None of these issues will thrill the true right-wingers in his party, but they actually do appeal to the broad mainstream of Republicans in California, and they will protect his flank with the independents and moderate Democrats.

So I don't think Angelides can pull those independents away. Only Schwarzenegger can do that. By his actions, he could drive independents back into the opposition, but I wouldn't expect him to do that. Or there could be a scandal, or some other shock to the system -- a disaster -- to which he reacts poorly and turns people against him.

Could power outages do it? Perhaps, but it might depend on how he reacts. If he dithers, like Davis did, then people will be upset. But if his reaction were more forceful, and more effective, then it could produce just the opposite result.

It is also still very possible that this is going to be a big Democratic year nationally in which just about every Republican with any kind of competitive race loses. And Angelides is well positioned to ride such a wave if it comes.

So I guess that's another way of saying that yes, Angelides is the underdog. He needs a Democratic tsunami or a shock to the political equation to shake things up and turn the dynamic in his favor again. He probably can't do it through traditional campaigning, try as he might.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:47 PM

Fleischman goes out on his own

I missed Jon Fleischman's announcement the other day that he is leaving the OC sheriff's office to start his own political firm and, presumably, to have more time to tend to this fast-growing website. In the past year FlashReport has become a go-to site for folks looking to take the temperature of the conservative wing of the California Republican Party.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:18 PM

July 18, 2006

New data on ER visits

Contrary to popular belief, immigrants and the uninsured do not use hospital emergency rooms more than other people. In fact, they use them less, according to a new study in Health Affairs. You can find it here.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:03 PM

July 17, 2006

June 6 turnout: 33.6 percent

Bruce McPherson says 33.6 percent of registered voters voted in the June 6 primary. Of those, 46.9 percent voted absentee.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:18 PM

Sex offenders in the race for governor

The issue, that is.

John Myers recaps today's back and forth among the candidates for governor over who is tougher on child molestors.

One thing he doesn't mention: The governor's camp launched a preemptive strike when it learned that Angelides planned an event at a Southern California school at which it was thought the Democrat would settle for keeping sex offenders from living within two miles of a campus. Scharzenegger's campaign emailed reporters links to a web site that showed the addresses of every convicted sex offender who has reported living within a two-mile radius of the school at which Angelides was appearing. Alas, it was for naught, as Angelides in the end endorsed the same 2000-foot restriction the governor backs.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:14 PM

July 15, 2006

DOF: June revenues off $59 mil

Revenues in June were down $59 million from the month's projection, a shortfall of less than 1 percent in the $10 billion expected. It looks like taxes and personal income and corporate profits are running a bit ahead of forecasts while sales taxes were just below projections.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:06 AM

Rasmussen: Angelides leading

The latest robo poll from Rasmussen seems to suggest that the race for governor is only just beginning and that Schwarzenegger is not going to run away with it. One oddity in the poll: Angelides leads (by two) even though Schwarzenegger has a slightly positive approval rating.

Frank Russo thinks the poll shows that Schwarzenegger is in deep trouble.

Bill Bradley
says it's an outlier.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:59 AM

July 13, 2006

Lockyer to sue chip makers

Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer plans to file an antitrust lawsuit today against seven computer memory chip manufacturers, alleging a conspiracy to fix prices and corner the market on dynamic random access memory, or DRAM chips. Lockyer says he will be joined by the attorneys general of 33 other states. He says the illegal activity took place between 1998 and 2002.

Here is a link to the press release.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:07 AM

Of interest

This essay by Sen. Sheila Kuehl is the first of several she says she will be writing on the state's fiscal situation and the new budget. Interesting stuff, but she seems to have made a major error in her first go.

The piece says the budget sets aside $9 billion for interest on debt, combining the traditional general obligation bond debt of the state and the debt voters approved in 2004 to refinance the state's deficit bonds.

But that number is way high, according to figures from the Department of Finance.

First of all, I am thinking that Kuehl has confused the concepts of interest and debt service. Interest is the price you pay to borrow money. Debt service is the total cost of repaying a loan, including the interest and the principal, the money you borrowed. But even accounting for that mistake, she is still vastly overstating the obligation.

Kuehl says the interest on traditional GO bonds in this budget will run to $4 billion. The Department of Finance says the interest on those bonds will be $2 billion. The state will pay another $1.4 billion in principal, for a total debt service of $3.4 billion.

The senator also says in the piece that the interest on the deficit bonds will be a whopping $5 billion. But Finance says the interest on those bonds this year will amount to only $421 million. The state plans to pay another $1.5 billion in principal, for a total of just under $2 billion.

Together, the total amount of interest on the state's debt would be about $2.5 billion -- not the $9 billion Kuehl reported -- and the total debt service would be $5.4 billion. Still a ton of money, especially for the deficit bond.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:30 AM

Universal health care

The Chronicle is encouraged by what it sees as San Francisco's moderate move toward guaranteed health care for all its residents.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:51 AM

July 12, 2006

Q-ing it up on the web

Schwarzenegger is scheduled to do another live web cast Q and A today at 3 p.m. This one will be hosted by Kate Folmar of the San Jose Mercury News. Anyone can submit questions in advance, which Folmar will choose from during the interview. Go here for more info and to view the event.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:51 AM

Putting the heat on Sanders

The Union-Tribune says a court ruling will make it much harder for the city of San Diego to close a $2 billion unfunded gap in its pension system. With the court option fading, the paper says the new mayor has to do more to solve the problem.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:34 AM

July 11, 2006

Like toothpaste

The LA Times isn't sold yet on the idea of public financing for political campaigns:

Political money is a lot like toothpaste in a tube: You can screw on the cap tightly, but if you keep squeezing, the toothpaste will burst out the bottom. In the same way, special interest money will burst through the regulations and find its way to a candidate. New solutions will bring new problems. The question for voters, as they begin studying the details of the proposals, is whether trying to limit the power of political money is worth the effort.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:07 AM

Small is the new big -- education edition

The SJ Mercury's editorial page looks at lessons learned from a small schools experiment in the Alum Rock school district:

LUCHA's and Renaissance Academy's API scores are among the best in the district, although the evaluator, R.E. Castro, found no definitive reason why. (Adelante's students weren't old enough yet to take the tests.) Teachers in the sister schools charged that small schools recruited good students, but Castro found no evidence of that. What may be true is that active and involved parents, frustrated by the pace of change, choose schools where reforms are happening.

Castro also examined the rates of academic improvement among a cluster of students in the small and sister schools, and found no big difference. However, it was only a one-year look at a small number of students.

What Castro did find was intense collaboration among teachers at the small schools -- a solid indicator of a successful school -- and high rates of parent participation and satisfaction.

Small schools can foster close-knit student and teacher relationships. By controlling discretionary money, they also can experiment with scheduling and the curriculum. The district's challenge is to figure out how to better define the role of the smaller schools and, if results warrant, to create more of them.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:04 AM

Controlling perceptions

This Chronicle story says a leading prison expert consulted by Schwarzenegger has disavowed his latest plan. But if you read the whole story, it says the expert, Joan Petersilia, is a strong supporter of the kind of re-entry prisons the governor is proposing to build to ease inmates who are about to be released back into society. The idea behind the proposal is to do more to prepare convicts for life on the outside, giving them job training and counseling, housing, and other assistance so that they don't just land cold on the street and return to what they know -- crime.

Petersilia says the governor's plan as it was released "offers no real way for choosing" which inmates would go through the new system and is "probably unrealistic" because urban communities won't want the facilities in their neighborhoods. The first point seems easily fixable: just hire Petersilia or one of her peers to advise the state on which inmates to discharge this way. The second issue -- potential community opposition-- seems like an odd criticism from someone who is a big fan of the idea. If she thinks it's an important part of the answer to reducing recidivism, maybe she should help make it a reality instead of prematurely predicting its demise.

Anyway, if you read between the lines of the story, it looks like Petersilia's real beef is with the governor's plan to build two new full-scale prisons. That part of the proposal has overshadowed everything else Schwarzenegger is trying to do and led many people to ignore the more novel and creative parts of his proposal. This kind of thing has become a habit with Schwarzenegger. He likes to sound tough, so he tends to lead with his harsher side. But more often than not this approach takes attention away from his more nuanced policy moves.

In this instance, he could have showcased the $100 million in added funding for adult and youth prison reforms in the budget he just signed, highlighted that as the first step, and then proposed the re-entry facilities as the second step in his reform plan. He could have mentioned his support for new prisons, if needed to keep pace with population growth and make room for education and training programs that the prisons badly need, as a secondary element. If he had done that, the debate would probably be unfolding in a very different way.

Even better, why not propose a new prison dedicated entirely to vocational training for soon-to-be released inmates? That would seem to have widespread support from reformers and lock-em-uppers. Of course, anyone moved from a cell in a traditional prison to a spot in the new one would free up space for an unreformable inmate.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:23 AM

The Doolittles' cash machine

Rep. John Doolittle's habit of paying his wife a commission on the money she raises for his campaign is now getting national attention. This story in the Washington Post examines the practice and takes a close look at some of the congressman's other campaign expenditures.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:27 AM

Under the radar

The governor and his wife attended a White House dinner Monday night in honor of his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver, but Schwarzenegger's office didn't mention the event on his public schedule. The story is in the Chronicle.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:22 AM

The Texafication of North America

Michael Barone looks at NAFTA's effect on recent elections in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:12 AM

July 10, 2006

Angelides stumps for governor's bonds

Phil Angelides appeared with Don Perata in include today to campaign for the infrastructure bonds.

An excerpt of what he said, according to his campaign:

“This infrastructure investment plan is critical to building California’s future and ensuring California can compete and succeed in the global economy. Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata has been a true leader, fighting for these critical investments in our state from day one. I commend him for fighting for an infrastructure plan that will put California on the high road to a sustainable future and a strong economy.”

Apparently no mention of Gov. What's-his-name's role in putting the bonds on the ballot.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:43 PM

Court hears gay marriage case

Here is an early report from the Chronicle on today's Appellate Court hearing on California's gay marriage ban.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:28 PM

Why he has no plan

In this piece on Sunday, I said that the governor's latest no-tax pledge isn't credible, because he can't guarantee that the economy will produce enough tax revenue to balance the budget, and his actions over the past three years have all but closed out his ability to make further cuts in projected spending. If the revenues don't show up, he's boxed in and will have to raise taxes, whatever he is saying now.

But a look behind the headline number in last week's LAO report shows why Schwarzenegger is willing to roll the dice.

The report projected operating deficits of between $4.5 billion and $5 billion next year and, if nothing is done to fix the problem, the year after. We hear the structural deficit number all the time, but we don't always get the revenue and spending numbers that produce it and give it context.

Here are the revenue and spending numbers over time. The first two years are estimated and budgeted. The final two years are projections:

revenue: $92.7 b
spending: $92.7 b

revenue: $94.4 b
spending: $101.3 b

revenue: $99.7
spending: $104.3

revenue: $106.1 b
spending: $110.9 b

Given that the reserve at the end of the current budget year is likely to be in $1 billion range based on current revenue estimates, the next budget proposal (for 07-08) starts roughly $3.5 billion in the hole.

It would take, then, another "April miracle" producing about a 4 percent bump in projected revenues to allow whoever is governor in January to balance the budget without raising taxes or cutting services. An ongoing, 5 percent jump in tax receipts beyond those currently projected would wipe out the deficit for good, assuming that spending tracks no higher than the LAO projections.

But look at the estimated revenue growth between 05-06 and 06-07. It's a measly $1.7 billion, or less than 2 percent. That reflects the assumption that much of the revenue growth in the past year was the result of people cashing in on stock options and the housing boom. Take those taxes away and the underlying growth in the economy doesn't leave you with much of a net gain.

But it's also easy to see how the state might continue to limp along without either solving the problem or going further into debt.

If the current year's tax receipts turn out to be about $3 billion above projections (as opposed to this year's $8 billion), then the next budget can again be balanced without raising taxes. And if the LAO and Department of Finance think that bump is the last gasp of the housing boom or stock market gains and classify it as "one-time" revenue, then the structural deficit would remain.

That's the tricky thing about the structural deficit. It is really just a product of projections. The spending projections are generally a little more reliable than the revenue projections. But if this year's revenue gains were accepted as a more or less permanent part of the landscape rather than a windfall, the structural deficit would pretty much disappear overnight.

I think that's why Schwarzenegger says there is "no plan" to balance the budget over the long term. The plan is to watch what revenues do and then react.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:01 PM

Broadening the base

Bill Bradley looks at the governor's Latino outreach efforts.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:10 AM

July 7, 2006

Lockyer: violent crime rate down

A new report from state attorney general Bill Lockyer says the violent crime rate fell by 5 percent in 2005 while the property crime rate rose slightly. The drop in the violent crime rate was driven mostly by a reduction in assaults. Murder was up.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:54 PM

LAO's look at the budget

The LAO is out with its analysis of the budget bill as signed. Forecast of the operating defict next year: $4.5 billion to $5 billion, which would be reduced by any money left over in the reserve at the end of 2006-07.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:02 PM

Bush v. Schwarzenegger

This post from Billl Cavala and this one from Julia Rosen make it increasingly clear that Dem analysts and activists think their biggest ally in the fight to defeat Schwarzenegger will be....George W. Bush.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:34 PM

Il fitting

Arnold's press people are crying foul over this Drudge item quoting Angelides senior adviser and loose cannon Bob Mulholland comparing Schwarzenegger to Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. Something about lifts in their shoes. Then again, that's more flattering than some of the comparisons that were thrown Schwarzenegger's way in his last campaign.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:24 PM

Hangin' with Gray

The LA Times' John Balzar catches up with Gray Davis to chat about the former governor's new life in the private sector.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:30 AM

July 6, 2006

LAO assesses new contract

The LAO says the administration's estimate of the cost of its new contract with employees represented by SEIU is reasonable. The full evaluation of the contract and all of its provisions is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:19 PM

Angelides on prisons

Phil Angelides today promised “immediate, tough” action to fix problems in the state prison system if he is elected governor, but said he wouldn’t know most of the details of what he would do until after he took office. As of now, Angelides pledged to:

--Declare a state of emergency in the prisons;
--Expedite hiring of staff for both the prisons and the parole system to fill vacancies;
--Open two unused prisons to increase capacity
--Personally contact the federal judge who is supervising the prison health care system and meet with him within 30 days;

He said he would address other issues after appointing a cabinet secretary and top-level managers for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and giving them 90 days to produce a “prison recovery plan.” He said the plan would:

--Increase prison capacity by building new prisons, which he promised would be open within three years after they were authorized;
--Improve and expand rehabilitation, education and job training;
--Improve mental health and substance abuse treatment;
--Provide a new focus on juvenile diversion programs
--Set a goal to take the prison health care system out of federal receivership by the end of his first term.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:50 PM

'I totally rule it out'

The governor says today that he won't raise taxes in a second term if he is reelected. The declaration came in an interview with the Bee's editorial board. Here is an early story.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:08 PM

Poll: Schwarzenegger up 44-37

A new poll from San Jose State's Survey and Policy Research Institute shows Schwarzenegger with a lead over Phil Angelides on the strength of a large and growing edge among independent voters.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:34 AM

July 5, 2006

Angelides wants 8 debates

Phil Angelides announced today that he had accepted eight debate invitations, and he challenged Schwarzenegger to do the same. Don't hold your breath. It's typical for challengers, especially those running behind, to want to debate, and for incumbents to duck such encounters. Those tendencies might be even more in play in this race. Angelides is not very well known and Schwarzenegger is known the world over, so it would seem to be to the Democrat's advantage to share the stage with the governor. There's also the fact that Angelides is well-versed on the intricacies of state policy, while Schwarzenegger is more of a big-picture guy who delegates a lot of the details. Then there's the expectations game. In 2003, Schwarzenegger refused all but one debate invitation. This led to speculation that he was afraid to face his opponents because he was unqualified for the job. But by appearing just once, he maximized voter interest in that event, and many voters were surprised that he knew as much as he did. Now, after three years in the job, Schwarzenegger is far better prepared for such an encounter, but voter expectations probably have not risen in kind. He could play that game to even greater advantage this time. Bottom line: expect one debate, maybe two.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:44 PM

'Safety first'

A veteran state correctional officer lays out the case for a more "therapeutic" prison system, then offers a realistic, and sobering, assessment on the chances of it coming to pass.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:46 PM

Farm labor law upheld

In a 2-1 decision, the Third District Court of Appeal has upheld the state law requiring farm labor contract stalemates to go to private arbitration. A grower had sued, contending the law was an improper delegation of the Legislature's authority, among other things. The bill was a major project of political consultant and lobbyist Richie Ross, and the UFW.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:30 PM

Going backwards

The California Republican Party has put up another ad quoting Steve Westly ripping Phil Angelides, this one on the environment. Like the last one, on taxes, this one begins with the phrase "one person's view" and then ticks through the quotes before ending with the tag line, "What if Steve Westly was right?" The video, meanwhile, mostly shows Angelides in reverse, appearing to walk backwards, as he does in one of the ads produced directly by the Schwarzenegger campaign. I liked the campaign's ad, which was simple and clear, but I find these commercials confusing. The quotes are disjointed, and it is hard to follow who is saying what about whom. And I don't think Westly is so well known that you can save his ID for the end as if uttering it were a big flourish. My reaction when I hear his name is more like a big "So what?" I don't know if these ads are really airing. I have not seen them on television. But if they are I doubt they are doing Schwarzenegger much good.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:23 AM

Viral blogging on the right

OC-based radio talker and author Hugh Hewitt has moved his conservative blog to a newly renovated space at TownHall has been absorbed by Salem Broadcasting, the conservative network on which Hewitt's show is aired along with Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and others. Now they are all at this new site, with links to listen to them online and read their blogs and commentaries. The site also includes an extensive effort at stirring conservative activism, including the creation of more blogs. It also features streaming audio of selected callers to the various shows each day.

This will be an interesting experiment in creating synergy among the Internet, talk radio and print with the goal of motivating voters to tap in and take part. Some are already calling it the DailyKos of the right. Kos probably has more readers at the moment, but TownHall will have its radio network and other advantages. It very likely could emerge as a central meeting place for conservative thought and activism nationwide. Keep your eye on it.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:32 AM

July 3, 2006

LAUSD v charter schools

This LA Times story provides a detailed and nuanced look at the tensions between the city's fast-growing ranks of charter schools and the leaders of the LA Unified District. The latest wrinkle is that the charters are cherry-picking talent from the traditional schools by offering more freedom, flexibility, responsibility and accountability.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:27 PM

Campaign finance limits

In my Sunday column I suggested that a Supreme Court decision last week striking down Vermont's contribution limits threatens the viability of the limits in the California Nurses Assn.'s initiative on the November ballot. Ned Wigglesworth disagrees. He notes that the limits in the initiative are much higher than those in Vermont. But he does not do the math that Justice Breyer did to calculate the limits as a proportion of the state's population. On that basis, California's limits would be lower than Vermont's.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:20 AM

July 2, 2006

Only in San Francisco

San Francisco tries to implement a local, universal health insurance plan.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:37 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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