Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Oceanfront Property for Sale... Will Build to Suit

Yesterday I said a little about the propositions that are at the heart of this special election. Today I need to give you a little bit of context. If you wandered in here by mistake and have a Schwarzenegger version of this, please, feel free to comment.
If Arnold was ever going to do everything he said he was going to do regarding balancing the state budget, he was going to need help. Of course, he was elected with a lot of help from business... including the California hospitals that had just been hit with new required nurse staffing requirements. One of Arnold's early acts was to suspend the implementation of that law. Can he do that? The California Nurses Association doesn't think so. (By the way, given the acuity of hospital inpatients in 2005, the difference between five and six patients per nurse is not an insignificant issue.)
His first budget borrowed heavily from programs. Funding for California Public Education was written into law years ago in Prop. 98. Arnold went to the teachers, hat in hand, to borrow $2Billion which he would repay in year two. In year two, of course, he did not repay the $2Billion and challenged the whole Prop. 98 funding structure. We're said to be 44th in per capita funding for education as it is. The teachers union pretty much went ballistic on him.
Arnold subsequently looked at restructuring state employee pension funding and entitlements. After all, how much support does a fallen peace officer's or fallen firefighter's family really need? ...and Arnold actually had the hubris to pose firefighters at his news conference from the recent wildfires. Oh, yeah, the firefighters union has been outspoken on the subject of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Anyway, that's what Prop. 75 is about. Sen. John McCain (there's still time to get out, Senator) spoke in California yesterday on giving union members and shareholders a voice in the use of their money for political action. Senator, this whole thing has been funded by business shareholders, and it's been aimed at one group of unions... the ones representing public employees who've been kicking Arnold's butt all year long. These are the "big government labor unions" Arnold blames for his... lack of success: nurses, home health aides, teachers, firefighters, peace officers. If Prop. 75 passes, opposition campaign funding can be tied up forever in audits.
Arnold wants to reorder the state's funding priorities. He wants to extend the length of time he can underpay classroom teachers by three years (Prop. 74), and if they quibble about it their district's funding and their jobs are at risk. He wants to cut personnel expense across the board. Arnold, bless his heart, wants to build highways with that money. That's what Prop. 76 is all about.
Legislative oversight? That's where Prop. 77 comes in. Even assuming for the moment that this three judge panel is legit and impartial, both chambers of the state legislature, the state Board of Equalization, and the California congressional delegation will be looking at new district boundaries. Arnold's aiming to have this in place... a done deal... for the 2006 election cycle. Bless their altruistic hearts, the men and women in Sacramento are going to be worried about whether or not they still live in their districts.
I'd like to believe that Arnold is looking out for me... I would... except that there is nothing in his entire agenda that speaks to the well-being of California households.
Why was Arnold fund-raising for this election all up and down the East Coast?
Why is the Wall Street Journal writing editorials on this election?
...because if this works the way Arnold wants it to work then California is for sale.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Ronni Bennett said...

"...there is nothing in his entire agenda that speaks to the well-being of California households." That pretty well describes Washington in relation to the entire country, too.

I have a question: 20-plus years ago, California passed Proposition 13 which, if memory serves, all but eliminated property taxes. Is that still in force? And if so, might that have something to do with shortage of funds?

1:59 PM  
Blogger Always Question said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Always Question said...

Prop. 13... of which I was a beneficiary... only established a base year and capped increases in assessed value. It was intended to keep people from being forced out of their homes by property tax increases. When a home changed hands or was remodeled the property was reassessed at the then-current value.
California's core problem, in my opinion, is it hasn't made the necessary investments in infrastructure. They buy their water from out of state. They buy their power from out of state... and they tax and regulate their businesses until they, too, move out of state... and a succession of governors going back to Pat Brown's time haven't addressed it.

7:04 PM  

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