January 17, 2006
Gov. Schwarzenegger Has
A week after
a motorcycle accident resulted in 15 stitches across Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's upper lip, his face showed no damage Monday. Still,
as the governor addressed the 21st annual San Francisco Bay Area
Labor and Community Breakfast in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther
King Jr., it was clear the scar tissue is real -- at least from
his sweeping loss in the November special election that defeated
the four ballot measures he endorsed.
you'll see any blood on his face. Schwarzenegger didn't even break
a sweat as he addressed a crowd in which a few stood to applaud
him, while a few others booed and jeered. The Austrian Oak was
all bonhomie. Former S.F. Mayor Willie Brown let the group know
it was an honor for the California governor to return to the MLK
breakfast. What he left unsaid was that it would be wrong to receive
Mayor's words couldn't stop House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi
from taking a jab at Schwarzenegger before he addressed the lukewarm
crowd, or San Francisco Labor Council heavy Tim Paulson from bashing
of it is that even those of us who are rooting for Schwarzenegger
to succeed can't rally in his support. He has proposed a budget
that spends more than the state takes in -- which leaves him plodding
in the footsteps of recalled Gov. Gray Davis.
As the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office concluded last
week, the governor's latest budget proposal "moves the state
in the wrong direction" -- it "should focus on paying
down existing debt before making expensive new commitments."
As a result, the state faces "an annual operating shortfall
of over $5 billion in 2007-2008" -- and that's the conservative
Schwarzenegger was a popular figure, until he started doing the
hard part of his job. Once he proposed ways to cut state spending
so that he would not have to raise taxes, his numbers started
farther when the media faulted Schwarzenegger for proposing a
special election. Voters rejected the measures, even if many newspaper
editorial boards put aside their objections to the extra election
and endorsed at least some of the measures.
In his State
of the State address, Schwarzenegger said he had "learned
my lesson." And, "Message received." The problem
is, the voters' message makes no sense. It's: We want more government
without paying higher taxes -- which means borrowing.
see that Schwarzenegger broke barriers with African Americans
in the breakfast audience. He explained how he used to say that
if he -- an Austrian "farm boy" -- could make it in
America, anyone could. But when he ventured into the inner city,
he met kids who lacked the education and family support that were
the foundation of his success. He realized not every child had
the tools to succeed.
also explained how his father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, used to
tell him, "Give something back to your community." Now,
Schwarzenegger is setting the stage to give back about $5 billion
more annually than the state takes in.
of the state Department of Finance notes that much of the projected
$4 billion shortfall in the 2006-07 budget exists because the
state pays off borrowed funds early, including $920 million for
transportation spending. Also, the governor increased school funding
by some $2 billion -- returning Proposition 98 funds early, which
the voters clearly wanted.
you really think he had the option of NOT paying that money back
this year?" chief of staff Susan Kennedy e-mailed me in reference
to the Proposition 98 money.
I do. Schwarzenegger already paid the price for standing up to
the forces that ballooned state spending. He lost in November,
but that doesn't mean he should propose a spending plan that may
work if the economy continues to do well, but could put the state
in thicker soup if it doesn't.
the voters, but know you can't give them everything. The recall
of Davis showed that many voters think they can send big spenders
to Sacramento, watch them pad employee pensions -- spending that
once implemented, no governor can revoke -- and still not have
to pay higher taxes. No one complained about the spending spree
until Davis raised the vehicle license fee. In one quick year,
Davis fell from re-election to recall.
of Schwarzenegger, state employee unions could fall next. Paulson's
post-Schwarzenegger broadsides should scare savvy Democrats. "Last
November," he boasted, voters sent "a clear message"
No, it was
not a clear message, because there wasn't a cost. Voters knew
that they could vote as they pleased and not face higher taxes.
Some day soon, however, taxpayers may see local governments pay
the price of overly generous pension benefits, and they won't
like the results.
are with you -- as long as it doesn't cost them anything. Message
2005 Creators Syndicate