A weekly update on the goings-on in Sacramento
For the week ending June 30, 2007
Key bills and issues we've been following during the
past week and beyond
With the prospects of meeting the July 1st budget deadline all but dead, the Legislature and Governor have been focused on other distractions. Much of the activity this week is more interesting for its intended or unintended future consequences than any actual victories or defeats-except that the budget will NOT come in on time. As we've said in prior posts and updates, that shouldn't be the criteria for what is IN the document, but that discussion is too complex to sustain the interest of most voters. As a Sac Bee blogger so eloquently put it, "They can't never (sic) seem to pass the budget on time."
Here are some of the highlights:
The Budget-Our state's moral document
Once again, the deadline for passage will be missed, but not for lack of trying by the Dems. They've tried to meet the Gov more than halfway on his proposal, but with him out of the country and posturing with the French and Brits, there wasn't much pressure on the legislative leadership, the so-called "Big Four" to reach agreement in his absence.
Of course, the Gov. may have known something the rest of us, who would at least like to see an appearance of an effort to meet the deadline, didn't know-that the Reps aren't playing on his team at all. The Republicans took this week to demonstrate, yet again, their insensitivity and unwillingness to reach agreement unless and until cuts are made to those rarely likely to vote for them-the elderly, blind, disabled and poorest Californians.
In this case, the die was cast when they refused to agree to a $10.5M cost override in the sparsely funded but critically important foster care programs for the state. This money was to provide transitional housing for some of the state's 75,000 foster kids after they turn 18. That decision means these hard-luck kids will be more likely than not to be living on the streets or going to prison- a grim choice for which the Reps can take credit.
Now the game of who's to blame emerges from the Caucus rooms with the Reps repeating their mantra that we've got to balance the budget (on the backs of the elderly and disabled). Of course, they've refused year-after-year to save the poorest and neediest from cuts by refusing to close corporate and yacht loopholes that would achieve the same balance but not at the expense of our most vulnerable.
We'll keep watching this dance unfold as the pressure starts to mount as the month of July wears on and government vendors stop being paid. I suspect the Gov will put on his white hat and try to save the day-assuring that he comes out looking the best in all this. For more on the budget story, go to: http://sacbee.com/111/story/249788
The Tribes vs. The Unions
As we predicted last week, this interesting battle exploded this week with the Assembly signing off on new "Compacts" that will allow four of the richest tribes in Southern California to add up to17,000 new slot machines at their casinos. Although the unions attempted to require concessions from the tribes that would allow workers the right to organize, the tribes refused to concede this point and the Dems (along with all the Reps, of course) capitulated. With an embarrassingly weak attempt to save face with some non-binding conditions thrown in at the end of the debate, gambling in California continues to grow and expand.
For more on this story, check out Capitol Weekly at http://www.capitolweekly.net/news/article.html?article_id=1557.
Labor had its own victory this week, with its candidate, Laura Richardson defeating the tribe's choice, Jenny Oropeza for the Long Beach area Congressional seat vacated by the death of Juanita Millender-McDonald. In spite of an almost $500,000 independent expenditure campaign by the tribes, this was an example of door-to-door politics trumping mailers and brochures, especially given the low-turnout for the election. With over 240,000 registered voters, only about 11% bothered to vote. This is shameful, especially with the increased use of absentee voting. Regardless, Richardson will go off to Congress after the August "run-off" and Oropeza stays in the State Senate. Where this all leads in the ever-escalating battle between the tribes and the unions is anyone's guess. Most Sacramento insiders believe that this will continue to play out and have some ugly consequences in the upcoming 2008 elections.
Global Warming and implementation of AB 32.
A very interesting development happened at the end of this week, with the Gov firing the head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The story is murky at best-with the Gov saying Robert Sawyer wasn't aggressive enough and Sawyer saying it was the Gov. who sabotaged his efforts to make those first global warming regulations stronger and more expansive. I'd put my money on Sawyer's version as we've seen over-and-over again this Governor talking tough but acting like a corporate shill on global warming and other environmental issues he's supposed to be championing. For more on this story, check out http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-air29jun29,1,902444.story?coll=la-headlines-california.
What Californians think about
An interesting poll was released this week by the well-respected Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) which does great work taking the pulse of the state on a variety of issues. This poll focused on what Californians see as the most important issue facing the state (Immigration) and how they feel about it. Even though this is a federal issue and the state's role is very limited, at best, 25% of all residents believe this is the state's top issue, with the economy (at 11%) and healthcare (at 8%) coming in a distant second and third.
So what did the poll find on the subject? Interestingly, in spite of all the noise and vitriol, 74% of Californians agreed that those who have been in the country illegally for at least two years should be allowed to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. A full 63% support the temporary guest worker program proposed in the now-defunct federal immigration bill.
With the demise of the measure in Congress this week, however, the whole immigration fiasco will put increasing pressure on California to do something, regardless of the fact that we don't have the jurisdiction to do much. For more on this poll, go to
The Rest of the Story
Our blogging offerings for the week
During the past week, we've had several interesting blogposts dealing with:
Public Education-Is anyone in charge here?
Empowering California's Youth
Are you Contributing to Republicans when you buy a car?
To read and comment on these entries, just go to: www.speakoutca.org/weblog/
We'll be watching and reporting on the many issues, including the not-on-time budget, as they unfold over the next several days. We welcome your comments and suggestions and hope you to send this newsletter to your friends and other like-minded progressives. Urge them to sign up to Speak Out California and keep the progressive voice alive!
Until next week,
Hannah-Beth Jackson and the Speak Out California Team