Cal Politic

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

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


  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger Jefe Le Gran said…

    Sheesh! It sounds like the legislature is going to have quite the summer. Have faith, though. I can't imagine that the California public will tolerate any cuts to the University system.

  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger Pacific John said…

    I'm not sure if the obtructionist card will work if the Dems can keep it really simple and say that they refuse to let Schwarzie screw colleges. It will be a metter of jujitsu, using Schwarzenegger's PR against him: "I guarantee I will not cut education."

  • At 3:04 AM, Blogger Jack Conner said…

    I think you're right, John. I think the Dems are banking on the fact that if they are standing up for colleges, then they won't be obstructionist...

    That said, the polling does not lie. The public is really pissed off that the budget hasn't been passed on time. They will have little patience for anyone seen as stubborn and unreasonable.

    Let's just hope it's Arnold that's unreasonable.

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