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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 1, 2006 | | September 6, 2006 »
September 5, 2006

Schwarzenegger schedules trade mission to Mexico

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today called Mexico's President-elect Calderon to congratulate him, according to the governor's office, and scheduled a trade mission to the country for Nov. 9 and 10, immediately after the California elections.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:58 PM

Why Phil?

Phil Trounstine says the Angelides message or messages sound like, well, Greek to him.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:05 PM

Single payer faces veto

Schwarzenegger says today that he is going to veto SB 840, the single-payer health care bill, because it relies too much on government to run the health care system.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:24 AM

Governable again?

Taking stock of the end of the legislative session now that the dust has settled, it appears that Gov. Schwarzenegger has had an extraordinarily successful year for a governor working with a Legislature controlled by the opposition in an election year. I don't necessarily agree with everything he has done, but by his standards, both on policy and politics, it is hard to see how he could have done much better.

He got a budget on time that did not erase the state's fiscal problem but narrowed the gap, paid down some debt, resolved his bitter conflict with the education lobby and dedicated much of a spring revenue surge to one-time commitments rather than ongoing programs.

He placed on the ballot an infrastructure package that asks the voters to approve nearly $40 billion in bonds for transportation, schools, housing and flood control.

He negotiated a compromise with the Legislature to adopt a groundbreaking measure putting California out front among the states in the fight against global warming.

He cut a deal with lawmakers to increase the minimum wage without indexing it to inflation.

He reached agreement on a plan to provide cheaper prescription drugs to low-income and middle-income Californians.

And there were many other, more modest achievements. On the other side of the ledger, his biggest failure was probably the loss of his flood control package due to his inability to come to terms with Senate Leader Don Perata and members of the Assembly pushing for more limits on growth in flood-prone areas. He also failed to persuade the Legislature to cough up money for more prison bed space, and never presented a thoroughly vetted and sensible plan to reduce the number of non-violent inmates in the prisons.

Although conventional wisdom is that Schwarzenegger has completely remade his governing philosophy en route to striking the deals he did get, only on prescription drugs did he do a real about-face, agreeing to use Medi-Cal's leverage as a hammer to try to get the drug companies to offer discounts to Californians. He opposed using that tactic a year ago but dropped his opposition when he agreed to this package.

But on the budget, infrastructure, global warming and the minimum wage, all the deals were well within the paramaters he staked out even before his debacle at the polls in last year's special election. On the details, he gave up some things, and the Democrats in the Legislature gave up some things. But that's what governing is all about.

People who are close to the Capitol may be too wrapped up in their own partisan or interest-group warfare to realize that the "gridlock" we all like to complain about has largely ended. Schwarzenegger deserves a lot of credit for that. But so do the Democratic leaders in the Legislature, who had all the incentive in the world to jam the governor with bills they knew he would veto and do nothing on the bills they knew he would sign. For the most part that didn't happen.

It will be interesting to see if this reality begins to permeate first with opinion leaders and then, ever, with a public that for good reason has been highly cynical about politics and government and especially down on state government.

NOTE: An earlier version of this item described the prescription drug plan as being for "middle income" Californians. A reader points out that it would also provide benefits to low-income residents who don't have any drug coverage now because they don't qualify for existing public programs.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:45 AM

Labor negotiations


Sacramento County workers are striking today. The main issue seems to be, as it often is in labor disputes, health care benefits. But this story is more about the service impacts and does not give a whole lot of detail about the impasse. And I am not sure it is available. It seems to me that negotiations with public employee unions should be more transparent. We should know exactly what the county has offered, and what the unions are demanding. How else can a citizen take sides? And prompting people to take sides, moving public opinion, is obviously what a strike is all about. Tyically these negotiations at all levels of government are done in secret, and the final agreement is a done deal by the time we see the details. That seems wrong to me.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:27 AM

The Villaraigosa factor

It is probably a commentary on the current condition of the Angelides campaign that today's long-expected announcement of an endorsement from the Democrat mayor of the state's largest city actually qualifies as news. Antonio Villaraigosa, a buddy of the governor, is finally, officially, backing his party's nominee. He held out until now, we are told, to avoid complicating negotiations over his plan to take partial control of the LA city schools. His delay was a reflection generally of Angelides' problem coralling stray Democrats into his camp. Will his commitment now also signal that Democrats are ready to "come home" to Angelides?

Posted by dweintraub at 9:23 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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