Cal Politic

A weblog dedicated to California politics. A thriving democracy depends on an informed body politic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Schwarzenegger's Indian Gaming Compact A Dud

New Compact Expands Gambling, Will Not Help Budget Crisis

Once again, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (GAS) is touting another compact that really isn't good for anybody. Yesterday, Schwarzenegger took a couple of hours out of the day (when he's supposed to be working on the budget) to hold a major press conference announcing his new Indian gaming compacts.

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) the compacts are not a good deal for California. Basically, in exchange for a massive expansion of gambling, the state will get $100 million a year for transportation projects. This is well short of the $500 million Schwarzenegger said he would get, and it does absolutely nothing to fill the $14 billion hole in the state budget.

I can't believe I'm writing this, but perhaps Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee says it best.

In theory, the compacts would generate another $150 million a year for the state treasury, but that, too, is a relatively tiny sum when the state's general fund is running more than $75 billion and the deficit is $14 billion. Those funds, moreover, would materialize only as the tribes expand slot machine operations, which tribal officials say will depend on judgments about the gambling market. And the sum, whatever it may be, would be fixed - a per-machine fee, rather than a percentage of casino revenues - and thus would be diminished by inflation over time.

While the financial benefits to the state would be minimal - unless many more tribes agree to similar compacts - the tribes could gain a strengthened monopoly on casino gambling, what tribal attorney Howard Dickstein called "the promise of exclusivity." Schwarzenegger is pledging to vigorously oppose a measure on the November ballot, sponsored by non-Indian card rooms and horse racing tracks, that would allow them to operate lucrative slot machines, and also a measure sponsored by some tribes that would remove all limits on tribal slot machines.

At least Walters is calling out Schwarzenegger on yet another failed campaign promise. Maybe some more writers will grow some cajones as the budget debate boils over in the next week.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Higher Education Update

Today is technically the deadline to pass a budget in California. I know everyone will be shocked to know that the budget will not be ready. Almost all budget handicappers are forecasting that the budget will be passed by the real deadline, June 30th.

Democrats are once again making their demands crystal clear to the new governor. Lynda Gledhill has the story in the SF Chronicle.

Democratic lawmakers, seeking to soften the blow of funding cuts negotiated between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and university leaders, worked Monday to craft an alternative plan that would assure eligible freshmen are not turned away from campuses this fall.

Legislative Democrats oppose the governor's plan to redirect 11,000 freshmen from the state's two university systems to community colleges, as well as cuts to financial aid and programs that help disadvantaged students.

That dispute is expected to be a central part of negotiations between lawmakers and the administration as both sides look toward approving the 2004- 2005 budget by July 1.

Republicans say they're intent carrying the Governor's water. They don't care that "the deal" screws a generation of college students by denying them access to the colleges and universities they've earned access to.

Republican lawmakers are sticking with the governor's deals, even if they aren't happy with all of the provisions.

"Once you open up one piece, more people will be wanting to bring things to the table," said Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, who sits on the joint budget committee. "Sacrifices were made in the short term for long-term stability. If they are now looking at unraveling the short-term actions, it makes me wonder if we will have the long-term stability which I think is necessary."

Here's the bottom line. The Governor and the Republicans are hell bent on dismantling the greatest public university system the world has ever seen. Their first step is shrinking enrollment and significantly raising fees.

Democrats will not stand idly by and watch Republicans destroy California's university system, an institution which is the heart and soul of California's economic expansion over the last 50 years. This blogger is rooting for the Dems. Keep it up guys/gals!

- Jack

Monday, June 14, 2004

Bush+Schwarzie=DemoCali Success?

Oh, hi, ya'll,

What up with this noticia? I thought the Shrub (thanks, Trudeau) was persona non grata for the Gropenator? Any thoughts from the good Dems out there? Oh, by the way, I think this could be a good break for us...
Oh, and I swear I've already let it go, but I found this searching through the Trudeau hysteria.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

California's Budget Battle: Higher Ed and IHSS

Jefe Legran asks on the last open thread:

What your read on the budget this year? Are the dems going to roll on Arnold's cuts to higher ed?

Two short answers.

One, the budget will be passed on time. This means it will be passed before the start of the new fiscal year, but it won't be passed before the June 15th Constitutional deadline.

Two, the Democrats will not roll on Arnold's cuts to higher ed.

Recent internal Democratic polling shows that while the public is on the Democrats side on all issues in the budget (higher ed, healthcare, transportation, and even the taxes to pay for it all) all they care about is that the budget is passed on time. If the budget is late, Schwarzenegger, using the Capitol Press Corps as his personal PR team, will paint Democrats in the Legislature as obstructionist. This will further erode the Legislature's already abysmal public approval rating and may threaten the Democratic majority in the Assembly.

That said, Democrats are not rolling over and playing dead. Both the Senate and Assembly Democratic caucuses have shown nearly unprecedented unity in choosing two issues, Higher Education and In Home Supportive Services (more on this later), as the public face demonstrating the type of "waste" that Schwarzenegger is cutting from the budget. Both houses have gone to great lengths to draw public lines in the sand on Arnold's draconian cuts to these vitally important public services.

I'm sure you've seen some of the many articles, op-eds, editorials, TV and Radio commercials and news stories, or maybe you even attended a town hall meeting on higher education or IHSS. In fact, in another show of Democratic unity, Treasurer Phil Angelides is jumping into the budget fight too with his show of solidarity against cuts to higher education. The Assembly Speaker has gone as far as announce three weeks ago that he will not vote for a budget that shrinks the states university system (like Arnold wants to). This may not seem like much, but it is significant because normally leaders do not show their cards this early in the negotiating cycle.

There are plenty of other things that Democrats will work to protect in the budget; things that aren't as politically "sexy" as taking a stand for California Colleges and Californians with disabilities. But, these are their public lines in the sand, and on this, they will not budge.

- Jack

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Open Thread

CalPolitic aims to be an open-ended conversation about everything political in California. Most of our posts are focused towards eliciting a conversation about what is going on in the Golden State and how we can do it better (the other posts are just good ol' rants).

What do people want to know more about? What's on your mind? This thread is yours.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Why Shoe-Lifts and Myrtles (man girdles) are Important in California Politics

So, we have the Republinator who has eliminated the bad guys, used enough ammo to wipe out a small country (not Iraq), and terrorized a roomful of kindergarten eventually-California-deferred 5-year-olds. So, why hasn't Mr. Shoe Lifts "blown up the boxes" he promised he would during that highly produced State of the State B-movie event he orchestrated last January? We're quite accustomed to the tired ol' Hollywood formula perfected in high priced, multi-million dollar he-man epics. That's OK when we voluntarily pay 10 bucks at the box office. It's not OK when we're force-fed a double-D cup candidate who says one thing and does another--with the approval of an apathetic populace. Wha' happened? Did GAS forget that movie heroes always follow through on their promises?

Was the myrtle too tight, GAS? Did night time conservative Republican Jay Leno give you bad advice? Did Dennis I-don't-understand-what-the-hell-you're-saying-on-that-Republican-sports-network Miller speak in twisted tongues? Or did a woman pass in front of you while you were delivering your script and "I'm starving" didn't notice?

Yikes. Where's my valium when I need it?

Look, all you have to do is keep yourself aware and not go through life with your eyes wide shut. Take, for example, that "blow up boxes" crap we bought into back in January. Last month, with much anticipation, we learned of Ahnuld's fiscal plan for the next year. Oy. What the hell was that? Where was the cost savings? Where was the structural change promised? Where were the smart, innovative plans we expected? Instead, we got more of the same. To top it off, Californians best governor to date, (according to Mrs. Schwarzenegger) while facing a record budget deficit, disillusioned college students, and frightened developmentally disabled Californians, heads out of the state to enjoy his Hollywood life. Nice, big boy.

We are in crisis here in California and no one except the most vulnerable Californians give a crap. Voters love the beast, but as with any politician, the honeymoon will eventually end. For those of us who love this state and the well-being of its citizens, it can't come soon enough.