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Daniel Weintraub

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« January 8, 2007 | | January 10, 2007 »
January 9, 2007

Senate Republican react

Ah, post-partisanship at its finest. In the past, reactions from legislators of the same party as the governor were hardly worth reading, because they were all filled with platitudes about how great the governor is and how brilliant his ideas are. THis time, not so much. Below you'll find the official responses from most of the members of the Senate Republican Caucus. Several of them took the opportunity to highlight their differences with Schwarzenegger on health care, taxes, services for illegal immigrants and sentencing laws.

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republicans offer a number of comments regarding Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s State of the State Address:

Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Tustin) – “I am encouraged by the governor’s optimism and outlook for California’s future. His recognition of the need for more fiscal restraint to bring an end to the structural deficit should be embraced by the legislature as a top priority. The longer we allow this problem to exist the more difficult it is to address other important priorities in California.

“The governor also acknowledged the looming water supply crisis. This issue is too important for the legislature to wait any longer for a solution. Our economy, including food production and drinking water supplies, relies heavily on ample storage for both Southern and Northern California.

“T he governor is presenting an ambitious agenda for 2007. As we move forward, Republicans will remain committed to our core principles and do what is best for California.”

Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley), Caucus Chair – “We look forward to working with the Governor this year on his plans to invest in rebuilding California. I also applaud his continued commitment to improving public safety by building more prisons and jails so criminals are not released early into our neighborhoods.”

Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) – “I thought it was a very good speech. But where is the money going to come from? What are we going to sacrifice? What gets cut to pay for it all? The devil is in the details.”

Senator Jim Battin (R-La Quinta) – “I cannot support increasing taxes to provide healthcare benefits for illegal immigrants.”

Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) – “I am encouraged by the Governor’s State of the State address. It is obvious that he is taking the needs of our state seriously, particularly the critical need for improvements to our water system, in order to accommodate for the growth in California, and the anticipated hydrological changes. I am anxious to get to work with him, as well as my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to develop a comprehensive, efficient plan for managing one of California’s most precious resources – water.”

Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) – “I commend Governor Schwarzenegger for his proposal to introduce two new dams to increase the state’s water supply. This will bring much needed relief to farmers who need a bountiful and consistent supply of water to grow their crops, and in turn make it affordable for working families to put food on the dinner table. Increasing the water supply will also help a growing California meet its water and storage needs.

“In the months past, there has been a lot of talk of bipartisanship. Compromise is necessary and commendable as long as the Legislature and the Governor can uphold the central values of all Californians. This does not mean that as Republicans we must give up our principles.

Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced) – “I applaud the Governor for taking on such tough policy issues this next legislative session,” said Senator Jeff Denham. “There are policy items in his agenda like water storage that I agree with passionately. However, I adamantly oppose parts of the Governor’s approach to prison reform. No matter what the reason, criminals should not be released early, before completing their full sentences. Any prison reform must protect law abiding citizens first over the comforts of criminals. Early release of prisoners only endangers our public.”

Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) – “Governor Schwarzenegger has offered a broad wide-ranging vision for the state of California for 2007 and beyond during his State of the State address. I agree with the governor that we must address the educational needs of our school children, and the important issues of health care for legal residents of California, getting residents off of our welfare rolls and into the workforce, building and improving our state’s infrastructure system.

“As the saying goes, the “devil is in the details” and I look forward to seeing how all of these programs will be implemented. I remain committed to moving forward in a responsible way that will protect California jobs and not raise taxes.”

Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) – “I applaud the Governor for his ambitious and visionary plan for California’s future, and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle on these important issues. We must make some very tough decisions to ensure that we live within our means. Rest assured however, that I will not support any proposal that undermines my fiscal conservative principles.”

Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta), Vice Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee – “My hope is that the Governor’s stated desire to have the state live within its means, will result in his following tonight’s address with a budget that doesn’t spend more than we have, and doesn’t raise taxes.”

Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) – “Tonight’s State of the State address reminded me that the State of California needs to use its resources wisely. I applaud the Governor’s enthusiasm and optimistic vision for California’s future. However, the question that sticks in my mind is, ‘how are we going to pay for all these programs and who is going to pay?’ That’s the billion-dollar question.

“Last year, the Legislature passed a budget that left the state over $5 billion in debt. This deficit has grown to $5.5 billion. So, we have yet to climb out of the fiscal hole we created from the last budget enacted. I hope that this year we address this critical issue, begin to pay down our debt and ensure that California lives within its means. I look forward to working with my colleagues to develop practical, bi-partisan solutions that will benefit my constituents in the 15 th Senate District.”

Senator Bob Margett (R- Glendora) – “California faces serious problems which should not be tied up in partisan politics—water, education, and prisons are just a few. The Governor has proposed an ambitious agenda to address these issues and I am committed to working with him and my colleagues to find solutions. However, these solutions must not raise taxes, impede economic growth, or be fiscally irresponsible.”

Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) – “I applaud the governor’s call for Career Technical Education (CTE) funding. For too long, this critical component of our education system has been ignored. We simply have far too many high school students dropping out, and the fact is that many others don’t want to go to college.”

We can do a better job of preparing those students to enter the workforce. Restoring CTE programs to California’s high schools will result in a dramatically lowered drop out rate, and turn around young lives by offering them a future. I will work with the Governor closely on career technical education because it can affect many other policy areas that need assistance.”

Posted by dweintraub at 9:17 PM



State of the state response

Here is the Democratic response:

Democratic Response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s State of the State Address

SACRAMENTO—Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate Pro Tem Don Perata issued the following statements in response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s State of the State address:

Speaker Núñez:

“Tonight we heard the Governor talk about his priorities. And like last year, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get things done for California. Working with the Governor, we raised the minimum wage and passed a plan to provide affordable prescription drugs. We enacted a landmark bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is attracting attention worldwide. We are eager to continue this bipartisan momentum and move California forward.”

“But bipartisanship only works when we can agree on the problems we have to solve, and the urgency of solving them. That’s why it’s more important than ever to tune out the hyper-partisan politics advanced by the extremes on the right and focus on the big problems facing our state.”

“That begins by fixing California’s broken health care system. Our plans include employers, employees and, only where necessary, government. To keep health care affordable and accessible, we focus on wellness, keeping costs down, and making insurance companies pay their fair share.”

“We’ll also focus on keeping our air healthy to breathe. Building on last year’s victory for the environment -- our landmark global warming bill -- we will be introducing new legislation to help develop clean alternative fuels, as the Governor mentioned. This will help all of us play a role in reducing the tailpipe emissions that make up 40% of all greenhouse gases.”

“We also will be relentless in focusing on education. Nothing is more important than ensuring children can get the education they need to compete and succeed. We will not retreat in our pursuit of educational reforms.”

“Finally, we are facing a multi-billion dollar budget gap. But at a time when our state is enjoying unprecedented prosperity, we will not balance the budget on the backs of seniors and our most vulnerable citizens.”

Senator Perata:

“Last year, we accomplished something pretty remarkable for a bunch of politicians: We stopped telling everyone else how to do their jobs and instead we did ours. In November, voters approved our bipartisan plan to rebuild California -- a $37 billion investment to modernize and strengthen our economy.”

“You gave us a vote of confidence. We must honor that confidence by putting those dollars to work right away rebuilding California’s highways, schools and levees. But, Rebuilding California is about more than cement and steel – it’s about prosperity and safety. It’s about strengthening and expanding the middle class. It’s about better schools, affordable health care and clean air and water.”

“We look forward to working with the Governor again this year, but let’s be clear: We will not just pay lip service to achieving these goals. We won’t take breakfasts away from poor kids. We won’t let Wall Street traders control our fight against global warming.”

“Tonight’s about speeches – and the Governor set some lofty goals. But even the best speech won’t build a school for your kids, won’t help your family get medical care, won’t reduce global warming. It’s not what the Governor says in January that counts, it’s what he signs in September.”

“The work of government does not take place once a year under bright lights and cameras. Like your job, lawmakers must work day after day after day to get results. Last year, we showed what we can do working together for California. Together, Democrats are out to prove that last year’s progress wasn’t a fluke.”

###

Posted by dweintraub at 6:55 PM



State of the state

Here is the prepared text of the governor's speech.

Prepared Text of Governor Schwarzenegger's 2007 State of the State Address


Lieutenant Governor Garamendi, Speaker Nunez, Senate Leader Perata, my fellow servants of the people, ladies and gentlemen... I am honored to stand here once again.


I want to thank the legislature, as I did in my Inaugural, for putting the people above politics last year--an election year. The federal government was paralyzed by gridlock and games. But you here in this chamber acted on infrastructure, the minimum wage, prescription drug costs and the reduction of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. What this said to the people is: we are not waiting for politics. We are not waiting for our problems to get worse. We are not waiting for the federal government. We are not waiting--period. Because, the future does not wait.

I believe that together not only can we lead California into the future...we can show the nation and the world how to get there. We can do this because we have the economic strength, the population, the technological force of a nation-state. We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city states of Athens and Sparta. California has the ideas of Athens and the power of Sparta.

As you know, California, if a nation, would be the sixth largest economy in the world. But it goes so much beyond that. According to The Economist magazine, California is home to three of the top six universities in the world. California has more Nobel Laureates, more scientists, more engineers more researchers, more high-Tech companies than any other state. We are responsible for one of every four U.S. patents. We account for one of every five U.S. technology jobs. We attract almost half of all U.S. venture capital, which funds the ideas and industries of the future. California leads the nation in biotechnology. We lead the nation in nanotechnology. We lead the nation in medical technology. We lead the nation in information technology. We will soon be the recognized leader in clean technology.

Worldwide, clean-tech investments are up 50 percent in the first nine months of last year alone. California is spurring clean technology by the environmental standards we are setting. Our innovation, our science, our knowledge, our creativity is un-equaled on the face of the earth. The 21st century can be the Golden Century for the Golden State.

I have asked myself, what must we do in this chamber to help fulfill this future? It starts very simply. We can start by working together.

Usually when a governor gives his State of the State Address, he talks about his vision. This year I want to talk about "our" vision, because I think we all want the same thing for Californians.

Let me tell you about some of the ideas of our legislative leaders. Speaker Nunez has made research into alternative energy and transportation fuels a top priority this year. Speaker Nunez, I will work with you.

A top priority for Senate Leader Perata is to create a world-class water transit system in the Bay area that could maintain vital transportation links after an earthquake or other disaster. Senator Perata, I will work with you.

Republican leaders in both the Senate and the Assembly have made debt reduction and building water storage their top priorities this year. Senator Ackerman, Assembly Leader Villines, I will work with you.

Let me explain some of the other areas where we can come together this year. In November, the people approved the first phase of infrastructure bonds necessary to rebuild our state.

During a speech at the Pat Brown Institute, I heard Senator Perata say that the people of California expect to see the construction cranes right away. They want to see action. Senator, I agree absolutely. We, the elected leaders, must authorize the cranes, the bulldozers, the cement trucks to begin their work without delay.

This is a test for those of us in this chamber in another way. Will the process turn into a porkfest as it did in Washington with all the earmarks and the backroom deals? Or, when we have allocated the spending, will the people say, "They spent our money wisely?" Yet this is more than just about the people's money. It is about the people's trust. Let us not disappoint them.

We must also be good stewards, because we must go back to the people for permission to build more and finish the job. The building has just begun. One year ago I unveiled the 200 billion dollar plan that prepared California for the next ten years. We are a big state and we have big needs. And we made a big down payment. But the job is not finished.

Some areas, such as prisons and water storage weren't included. And we still have more roads to build, more schools to construct, more universities to equip to keep up with the future. As I said last year, California's population is expected to increase by as much as 30 percent over the next 20 years. That is the equivalent of adding three new cities the size of Los Angeles'. We have to prepare for that growth.

So this year we must invest in five infrastructure areas in particular --public safety, water supply, transportation, education and disaster preparedness.

Let me give you a couple of examples why we must act. Public safety is the first priority of government. Our prisons are in crisis. We have inherited a problem that was put off year after year. Last year I called a special session to address the crisis. That session was not successful, so I declared a state of emergency. It is still an emergency. Our prison system is a powder keg. It poses a danger to prisoners, a danger to officers... and a danger to the well-being of the public if -- as the federal courts have threatened -- we are forced to release prisoners because of overcrowding. We have thousands of prisoners housed in gymnasiums, TV rooms, dining rooms, hallways, anywhere there is a space. 172,000 prisoners in facilities designed to hold about 100,000. That is a danger and a disgrace.

Here are the court-ordered choices we face: We build more prisons or we release criminals. We build more prisons or the court takes money from education and health care and builds the prisons itself. I am not in favor of releasing criminals. I am not in favor of taking money from classrooms and emergency rooms to build cells. Where do you stand? We must act. And we must act this year. Which is why on December 21st, I stood with Senator Gloria Romero and Senator George Runner and Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian to introduce comprehensive prison reform. We need a justice system that's fair, that's tough and that offers hope for those who can still turn their lives around.

Let me give another infrastructure example. The number of high technology companies we have in California is related to how many brilliant scientists we have in our universities...which in turn is related to how many smart undergraduates we have... which is related to the number of high school students who graduate... and so on down through the grades. That small child with the sticky hands starting the first day of kindergarten is the foundation of California's economic power and leadership.

We must invest in education. It's not just how much money we spend but also how we spend it. I have seen the need with my own eyes as I've toured schools across the state. I went to a school with bed sheets on the windows rather than blinds. I went to a school that was so overcrowded the gyms locker-room was used for teaching space.

The education bond that passed in November builds 10,000 new classrooms and renovates 38,000 more, but that gets us only through the next two years. We need to build for the future.

This year I ask you to invest in 15,000more classrooms and renovate 40,000 more. Yet we must build not only structures, but accountability and transparency into our education system. As a step toward the day when parents will have real choice in our public education system where to send their children, we should provide parents with relevant, accessible information, not bury it in the bureaucracy. If you can get information about a car online, why can't you get information about your local school online? What percentage of money goes into the classroom? Does the school offer after-school programs, music, art, PE programs? What is the graduation rate? The drop-out rate? You cannot easily get this information today.

So how can a school or a school district be held accountable? I want to work with the legislature to make this information readily available and user-friendly for the parents so that they can make intelligent choices about their child's school.

We must also continue to reinvigorate career tech education, support quality charter schools and find innovative solutions to the teacher shortage. I will not discuss all of our infrastructure proposals this evening, but I want to say one final thing about this topic. Rebuilding California is not a burden. It is not a chore. It is a privilege. It is a privilege to be able to help this state reach its full potential. It is a privilege to be able to help future generations fulfill their promise. And when they look back, they will see you in this room, and they will be grateful for what you have done.

Now, in addition to addressing our infrastructure last year, the legislature joined with me in passing the historic global warming measure that caps greenhouse gas emissions.

We hear so much about climate change. One area where we definitely need the climate to change is the national government's attitude toward global warming. It would not act so California did. California has taken the leadership in moving the entire country beyond debate and denial... to action. As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation.

I ask you to appropriate the funds to implement this global warming legislation, so that we can become part of the world market that is already trading credits for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

I also ask you to work with me on another environmental first. I propose that California be the first in the world to develop a low carbon fuel standard that leads us away from fossil fuels. And let us use the freedom and flexibility of the market to accomplish it. Let us blaze the way, for the U.S., for China and for the rest of the world. Our cars have been running on dirty fuel for too long. Our country has been dependent on foreign oil for too long.

I ask you to set in motion the means to free ourselves from oil and from OPEC.

I ask you to encourage the free market to overthrow the old order.

California has the muscle to bring about such change. I say use it.

When I first came here in 1968, one of the first things I did was to ask people where I could get health insurance because I knew that, as an athlete, injuries can happen. Here is the ironic thing about health care today. California's medical care, its medical knowledge, its medical technology is as strong and vibrant as a bodybuilder. Yet our health care system itself is a sick old man.

You know the reasons --rising costs, lack of coverage -- nearly 6.5 million Californians have no insurance at all. Recently I visited California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles. Last year, the uninsured people who came to the emergency room left behind 60 million dollars in unpaid bills. That's in one hospital. Multiply that by the number of hospitals in California, and the amount runs into the billions. Guess who's paying for all this? You and me and all of us who are lucky enough to have coverage. That's who pays.

The people with insurance pay a hidden tax through higher deductibles, higher costs, higher premiums, higher copays.

This year we must take action on health care. Yesterday I announced my proposal. I know you also have proposals. I have always said you can never have too many ideas. So all ideas, regardless of origin, are still on the table. I do believe, however, that the ultimate answer will come from the principle of shared responsibility --by the government, by employers, by health plans, by doctors, by hospitals and by the individual.

In the past, health care reform was always dead on arrival. But this year you can feel something different in the air. You can feel the energy, the momentum, the desire for action. You can feel that the time is right. Both leaders have said to me, "We will get this done." Ladies and gentlemen, we will get this done. California is going to lead the nation in breaking new ground to meet the health care needs of its people.

Tomorrow, I will outline my budget, which is balanced and which fully funds education. When I first became governor, we had an operating deficit of $16.5 billion. I said that through discipline and through new revenues that flow from economic growth, we would reduce the deficit over time. Last year, we got it down to $4 billion. Tomorrow, I will propose a budget that will dramatically reduce this deficit even further.

Now here is the great thing. We have made this progress without raising taxes. We have reduced the deficit, not by burdening the people and our businesses, but by encouraging economic growth. This year California has the highest revenues in its history and the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years. Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our state is strong.

We still have very difficult choices to make on the budget, and I am eager to work with you on these choices. I am not asking you not to be a Republican or not to be a Democrat or to give up your principles. I am asking you to be Californians and to work out a solution that is the best possible answer to the challenges we face. As long as we recognize some progress toward our individual visions -- whether Republican or Democrat --this should allow us the freedom to reach a budget agreement and to go forward together.

One last item. I again this year raise the issue of political reform. California politics is a centrifuge that forces voters, policies and parties away from the center. The centrifuge is powered by the way our legislative and congressional districts are drawn. They are drawn to eliminate party competition. They work against the mainstream, which is where most Californians are. Currently, ours is not a system of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a system of the parties, by the parties, for the parties.

In the past three election cycles, only 4 of California's 459 congressional and legislative seats changed hands. There was more turnover in the Hapsburg monarchy than the California legislature.

I ask you to work with me to create an independent commission to fix a political system that has become petrified by self-interest. California certainly is not alone in this. No state legislature in U.S. history has put a redistricting reform on the ballot. California can be the leader.

You will not benefit politically from this. I will not benefit politically from this. But the people will benefit from this. I ask you to work with me to do the right thing for the people.

Let me close with this thought. We accomplished historic things last year. Let us make this year historic as well. I know that what I have proposed is an ambitious agenda. I heard that last year and the year before that and the year before that. Yes, it's an ambitious agenda, but we must be ambitious to get California to the future. We are addressing needs that have been ignored for decades. This is important work. It is hard, heavy work. What we are doing relates directly to the kind of state this will be in ten or twenty years. But is this not what government should be doing?

For too long Californians just stared at this mountain called the future. We couldn't climb it because our current problems blocked the path. We couldn't climb it because it was politically too steep. We couldn't climb it because we couldn't agree on the route that takes us there. But last year, we made the decision, we took a deep breath and we began our ascent. Working together we can scale that mountain. We can stand on top of it. And one day we will look down from it and say to ourselves, look how far we've come, look where we are, look what we've accomplished for the people. Ladies and gentlemen of the legislature, let us continue the climb we began last year. Thank you very much.

###


Posted by dweintraub at 5:07 PM



Guaranteed issue, community rating and individual mandate

The governor's health care plan has a number of moving parts, and the temptation in the Legislature will be to keep some while dropping others. But two parts that will be difficult to disentangle are the mandate on insurers to cover everyone regardless of prior conditions and the mandate on individuals to have coverage for themselves.

Why? If insurers are required to cover everyone without regard to prior illnesses, then consumers will have a huge incentive to game the system. The point of buying insurance is to cover yourself against future, unknown risk. Some people pay in and never need it. Others pay in and need far more coverage than can be paid for by their premiums. It's all about sharing risk.

But if you can get insurance when you're already sick, then it would make sense financially for people to simply not buy it until they need it. It's as if you could buy fire insurance when your house was already ablaze. Why buy it in advance if you might never need it? In health insurance, that would lead to an increase in the number of uninsured and an increase in rates, since only the sickest people would be buying coverage. The individual mandate pushes back against that problem by requiring everyone to have coverage -- before they get sick. It broadens rather than shrinks the risk pool, spreading the costs to a bigger group of people.

Some consumer groups are applauding Schwarzenegger's proposal for guaranteed issue and community rating, which would prohibit insurers from using anything other than age and geography in setting rates. At the same time, many of these same groups are opposed to the individual mandate. But adopting one without the other would be a good way to send the entire system toward implosion.


Posted by dweintraub at 7:26 AM



Oh yeah, that deficit

If the governor's proposal to cut welfare benefits for kids whose parents don't move quickly enough into the workforce seemed to come out of nowhere, that's because it did. Schwarzenegger during last year's campaign refused to answer questions from the press and public about his strategy for balancing the budget without raising taxes. Everything, he said, would be taken care of by economic growth.

As a result, Californians were left in the dark about the kinds of actions it would take to close a $5 billion gap between projected spending and revenues. This one was prompted not only by the governor's need to shave costs but by federal pressure to move adults on welfare into the workforce. But there will be more unpleasant proposals. Many, like this one, will be dead on arrival in the Legislature. And there chances of passing might not have been much better even if Schwarzenegger had levelled with voters during the campaign about the state's dire fiscal condition. But at least he would have begun the conversation.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:05 AM



 
 

NEW BLOG

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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