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Let the budget wars begin. Again.

Advocates for the elderly, disabled, poor and others are howling about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May Budget Revision, which among other things would eliminate CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program, as well as most child care for the poor; slash mental-health spending by 60 percent; and freeze funding for schools, but not raise any taxes.

But business groups are fine with it. From John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/California, on behalf of Californians Against Higher Taxes:

John Kabateck“We are thankful to Governor Schwarzenegger for making the tough decisions on this budget that will give California a fighting chance to pull out of this recession. By resisting calls for more tax increases, the Governor is leaving more money in the hands of those who create jobs and build businesses as well as the working families hit so hard by this downturn in the economy.

“This is the only way to reduce the state’s alarming unemployment rate and it is a healthy, robust economy that will provide the tax revenues to fund critical programs. We urge the Legislature to follow the Governor’s lead and help put California on the road to recovery.”

And from California Manufacturers & Technology Association President Jack Stewart:

Jack Stewart“Californians are out of work and worried about their long-term security while many manufacturers, especially small ones, are concerned about their long-term competitiveness. The Governor’s ‘no new tax increases’ announcement in his revised state budget proposal is a responsible step toward the state’s recovery.

“California’s budget focus must shift from extracting dollars from families and employers to putting people back to work in high wage jobs. Everyone wins when more Californians are working.”

Not so, contends California Budget Project Executive Director Jean Ross, whose nonpartisan nonprofit group advocates for fiscal reforms to benefit low and moderate income Californians:

Jean Ross“Largely because of the economic downturn, California once again faces a very difficult budget year. But the Governor’s May Revision is not the balanced, responsible approach called for at this critical time. It relies too heavily on proposed cuts, threatens the state’s economic recovery, and recklessly gambles with our future. It pulls the rug out from under families already struggling with double-digit unemployment rates and the worst economic crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression and would leave the state ill-prepared to compete in an ever more competitive global economy.

“The Governor’s proposals cut far past the muscle and into the bones of our state’s safety net – the health care, job placement, child care assistance, and other services Californians have turned to in greater numbers for help during the recent downturn. The Governor’s proposed cuts to public schools would further reduce the state’s commitment to education below that of the nation as a whole, a gap that is wider than at any point in the last 40 years.

“Instead, California needs a thoughtful and responsible budget, one that takes a balanced approach that includes more federal aid and prudent and carefully targeted cuts that preserve the core capacity of services. And in the same way that families unable to make ends meet work overtime or take an additional job to boost their incomes, California needs to bring in new revenues. Protecting our public services will ensure we can meet the needs of Californians now and pave the way for an economic recovery.”

A sampling of further back-and-forth, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Chuck DeVore, John Perez, Leland Yee, state budget | 9 Comments »

Go make your own state budget

Everyone’s on pins and needles to see just how ugly the cuts will be in the May Budget Revision that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release tomorrow, but East Bay residents have a shot tonight at solving the budget crisis themselves.

In simulation, of course. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will be joined by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, as she hosts a workshop letting constituents use the “California Budget Challenge” online tool, developed by the nonpartisan nonprofit Next 10, to try to find a solution to our budget crisis. The simulation contains accurate figures for the state’s current revenues and expenditures as well as alternatives so that participants can make their own choices.

“I am concerned about how the economic crisis is affecting families, businesses, folks looking for work, and those that depend on state services,” Skinner said in her news release announcing the event. “Cuts like those the Governor is proposing could decimate the state and cause even more job loss. While we can’t risk bankruptcy we have to be smart. So I am inviting the people of AD 14 to let me know how they would balance the budget by taking ‘The Budget Challenge.’”

Frank Russo, Skinner’s chief of staff, was at an event I attended last Friday, and said he’s not aware of anyone having found a viable cuts-only solution.

Tonight’s event runs 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Albany High School, 603 Key Route Blvd. Another is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27 in the Orinda Library Theater, 26 Orinda Way.

Perez on Tuesday praised Next 10-enabled budget forums that had been held in Fresno, Orange County, Palm Springs, Reseda, Sacramento and San Diego, which attracted a total of about 2,000 Californians. “The public recognizes the difficulty that exists in getting a two thirds majority and they are very frustrated with the choices before them.”

John PerezHe vowed that this year’s budget will be developed on-time through a public process, not in closed-door meetings of the “Big 5.”

“We will develop the budget through a public process that includes full subcommittee and committee review,” he said in his news release, noting Assembly budget hearings – as well as other committee hearings dealing with the impact of the governor’s budget on California jobs – will be webcast live to facilitate transparency and foster public participation.

So – plenty of chances to watch the sausage being made this summer. Will you tune in?

Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, state budget | 1 Comment »

Oil spill shapes California’s drilling debate

Democrats are doing their happy dance now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in reaction to the epically disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has withdrawn his support of the proposed Tranquillon Ridge oil drilling project off California’s coast.

From state Controller John Chiang:

“I am pleased the Governor has withdrawn his support for what would have been the first new oil lease off the coast of California in 40 years.

“As a member of the State Lands Commission who voted against the project last year, I am saddened that it took a tragic and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to remind us how important it is that we continue to protect California’s shores and our multi-billion dollar coastal and port economies.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who chaired the State Lands Commission while serving as lieutenant governor:

“It’s unfortunate it took one of the worst ecological disasters in U.S. history for Governor Schwarzenegger to come to his senses, but today, friends of California’s coastline can breathe a sigh of relief. There will be no more new leases for oil drilling from platforms off the coast of Santa Barbara.

“When I chaired the California State Lands Commission, the independent commission responsible for approving oil leases in California, I made it clear that the risk of permitting new drilling from platforms in California is ecological and economic disaster. The Gulf Coast oil spill – which threatens 40 percent of U.S. wetlands and will cost fishing and tourism industries billions of dollars – proves my point. We don’t want to imagine what a similar spill would do to California’s coast.

“President Obama has proposed a temporary presidential moratorium on new offshore oil drilling, and that’s a good start, but Congress plays an important role as well. Our coast is best protected when both the President and Congress make it clear that new offshore drilling is not an option.

“An oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara jumpstarted the modern environmentalist movement 41 years ago, helping to create the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day, and ultimately, offshore oil drilling moratoriums that served us well for 26 years. What will they say about our response to the Gulf Coast tragedy?”

Since I wrote Friday about the differing views on this, new information about the spill’s severity has elicited more powerful criticisms of off-shore drilling.

Greenpeace – never a friend to oil interests, of course – put out this map today superimposing a projection of the Deepwater Horizon spill’s extent upon California’s coast, to illustrate the effect a similar spill might have here:

Greenpeace's CA oil spill forecast

And the Center for American Progress – a progressive think-tank with a lot of connections to the Obama Administration – made its case today, too.

“We need to learn from this tragedy,” wrote CAP Senior Fellow and Climate Strategy Director Daniel J. Weiss. “Offshore drilling is a risky way to meet our energy needs. We have only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, yet we use one-quarter of the oil produced annually. It is a dangerous practice that puts American lives and livelihoods at risk while distracting from real solutions that can provide clean energy while creating jobs.”

But House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, says domestic drilling still has to be part of the nation’s overall energy plan.

John Boehner“The Obama Administration is right to insist on a full investigation of the events leading up to this tragic, deadly, unacceptable accident and the oil spill that resulted. We must stop the leaking oil, and help the Gulf recover, but we also need to know how it happened, who is responsible, and how we can prevent future incidents. The White House must ensure that BP bears the entire financial burden to clean up this disaster. Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up their mess. Also, House Oversight Ranking Member Darrell Issa is asking important questions related to the Administration’s response to this incident and he should get prompt and complete answers.

“At the same time, this tragedy should remind us that America needs a real, comprehensive energy plan, like Republicans’ ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy, which includes more of everything: more clean and renewable sources of energy such as nuclear power, wind, and solar energy, more alternative fuels, more conservation, and more environmentally-responsible development of America’s energy resources. Our American Energy Act would use the funds generated by expanded American energy production to speed up the development of the next generation of clean-energy alternatives. It would also lower fuel costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and – at a time when Americans are asking, where are the jobs? – it would create more than a million new American jobs.

“Now is not the time for new government-mandated limits on the production of American-made energy, as such limits will only make us more dependent on foreign oil, slow the development of clean-energy alternatives, increase fuel costs, and destroy American jobs. It’s time to get to the bottom of this tragedy, work to ensure it never happens again, and move forward in a responsible manner on an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to lower energy costs, expand the use of clean-energy alternatives, and create American jobs.”

UPDATE @ 4:41 P.M.: More Democratic praise for Schwarzenegger’s move, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, energy, Environment, John Boehner, John Chiang, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Legislative Analyst: State building sale a bad idea

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office today issued a report on a proposal that the state sell some of its office buildings to private interests in order to raise some fast cash and then lease back the same properties to state agencies for 20 years at market rate rents.

The conclusion: It’s a bad idea.

Elihu Harris building in OaklandAmong the state buildings proposed for sale are the Elihu Harris Building, at 1515 Clay St. in Oakland; the Earl Warren/Hiram Johnson complex that houses agencies including the state’s Supreme Court, at 350 McAllister/455 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco; and the Public Utilities Commission Building, at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco.

Here’s the LAO report’s summary (with my emphasis added):

Recent legislation authorized the Department of General Services (DGS) to sell and then lease back 11 state-owned office properties. The sale-leaseback is designed to free up the state’s equity in the buildings to provide one-time revenue for addressing the state’s current budgetary shortfall. We estimate that the sale of buildings would result in one-time revenue to the state of between $600 million and $1.4 billion, but that annual leasing costs would eventually exceed ownership costs by approximately $200 million. Over the lives of these buildings, we estimate the transaction would cost the state between $600 million and $1.5 billion. The Legislature will need to weigh how these costs compare to other alternatives for addressing the state’s budget shortfall. In our view, taking on long-term obligations—like the lease payments on these buildings—in exchange for one-time revenue to pay for current services is bad budgeting practice as it simply shifts costs to future years. Therefore, we encourage the Legislature to strongly consider other budget alternatives.

This gibes with criticisms of the “fire sale” raised in recent weeks by state Controller John Chiang, university economists, land development experts and labor groups; two weeks ago they were touting a report by economic forecasting firm Beacon Economics that foresaw more than $4 billion in hidden costs for taxpayers. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said the Beacon report “provides a valuable warning about sacrificing the state’s long-term financial health for short-term gain.”

The state already has started accepting bids, but Gov. Schwarzenegger vowed last week that the sales wouldn’t go forward if it didn’t make sound fiscal sense. I’ve asked the governor’s office for a comment today; when I hear back, I’ll update this post.

UPDATE @ 2:10 P.M.: State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary Bill Leonard doesn’t see the LAO report as an obstacle to going through with the sales:

“The LAO’s report correctly concludes that the state is successfully negotiating a potential sale of state buildings, as authorized by the Legislature last summer. The Department of General Services worked with commercial real estate experts to market a world-class portfolio, which drew a world-class number of competitive offers and exceeded expectations. DGS needs to complete its negotiations with buyers and conduct a full analysis of the numbers before any final conclusions can be made. The bottom line is that the state should not be in the business of owning commercial real estate given the inherent cost risks. This transaction – if the numbers add up for the taxpayers – will generate cash that will help the state avoid further public service program cuts.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | 3 Comments »

‘A long time ago, we used to be friends…’

(Headline h/t to the Dandy Warhols.)

Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Steve Poizner’s campaign issued a communiqué a short while ago crowing over a new poll KABC/SurveyUSA poll showing that primary rival Meg Whitman leads him 49 percent to 27 percent, a 22-point gap.

And a new Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research poll shows Meg Whtiman leading Poizner 47 percent to 19 percent, a 28-point gap. Both these polls would sound bad, until you remember last month’s Field Poll showing Whitman leading Poizner 63 percent to 14 percent, a 49-point gap.

Poizner’s camp says he’s closing the gap. Communications director Jarrod Agen said:

“Meg Whitman has spent record amounts of her Wall Street billions to tell a record number of lies, but all of Goldman Sachs’ money and all the Queen’s men won’t be enough to put this rookie candidate back together again. Seven years ago, Republicans were fooled by marketing and a celebrity. It isn’t happening twice.”

But lest we forget, Poizner must’ve been among those “fooled by marketing and a celebrity,” and it wasn’t even seven years ago.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Poizner as he spent almost $14.9 million of his own money in a failed attempt to win an Assembly seat in 2004. From our May 2004 story on the endorsement:

Poizner, a former high-tech entrepreneur and teacher who has modeled his campaign on Schwarzenegger’s moderate conservatism, hopes to capture some of the energy for change that swept the governor into office last October.

“I think it will be a huge boost,” Poizner said of the endorsement. “Democrats, independents and Republicans have been very impressed with what (Schwarzenegger) has done over the last several months.”

Poizner said the endorsement gives him political credibility and shows he will be able to effectively work with the governor — something, he said, his Democratic rival cannot claim. Mark Watson, the former chairman of the San Mateo County Republican Party, said the endorsement will have practical benefits for Poizner’s campaign.

And, from our July 2004 profile of Poizner:

The 47-year old Los Gatos resident bills himself as a “reform” Republican, following in the footsteps of Bay Area legislators such as former Silicon Valley Congressmen Tom Campbell and Pete McCloskey, both of whom have endorsed his campaign.

Poizner believes the time is right on the Peninsula for a nonpartisan, moderate Republican who can reach across Sacramento’s often gaping political divide and work effectively with a Republican governor.

And though he’s received the blessing of the Republican establishment, Poizner has positioned himself as strongly independent. He’s rejected money from the party, corporations, political action committees and labor unions because he feels they corrupt the political process.

Poizner also has eschewed much of the traditional Republican platform. He’s pro-choice, for stem-cell research and is not yet sure whether he will cast his vote for President Bush or John Kerry in November’s election.

“I’ve been a moderate Republican all my life, but at times it’s been frustrating — especially in the last few years in the Bay Area and California,” Poizner said. “The party has gone much further to the right from where I am. My mission here is not only to provide some great leadership for this district and state, but I also want to revitalize the moderate wing of the Republican Party.”

Soon after Poizner lost that race, Schwarzenegger announced he would name Poizner to the state Public Utilities Commission, a $114,191-a-year post (which is, admittedly, peanuts to Poizner). Poizner withdrew from consideration for state Senate confirmation after learning his extensive investments would keep him from voting on telecommunications issues.

Schwarzenegger and Poizner still liked each other enough in 2005 so that the governor tapped Poizner to head the campaign for Proposition 77, a redistricting measure rejected by voters in the 2005 special election that Schwarzenegger called. And Schwarzenegger again endorsed Poizner for Insurance Commissioner in 2006.

Poizner’s hard turn to the right in this gubernatorial primary is well-documented, but rhetoric won’t change history – it’s only been in the last few years, as Poizner turned his eye toward the governor’s office, that he threw Schwarzenegger and his policies under the bus.

Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner | 1 Comment »

Arnold’s new Japanese TV ad

Long-time readers of the Political Blotter will remember our old “Schwarzenegger video of the week” feature, wherein we enjoyed our governor’s finer moments on film, as a pitchman and otherwise caught on tape. We ran out of entertaining Japanese commercials a while ago, but the governor now has made his return to Japanese television with a new ad to sell… California!

Posted on Monday, April 5th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Campaign finance: Arnold, Anthem & much more

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team ballot measure committee put $500,000 last Friday to the campaign for Proposition 14, the “top-two” open primary measure forced onto the ballot by state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, now Schwarzenegger’s nominee for lieutenant governor – and a measure wildly unpopular with both the Republican and Democratic establishments. A day earlier, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gave $257,328.40 to support the measure.

Palo Alto physicist Charles T. Munger Jr., son of Warren Buffett’s billionaire investor partner, last Tuesday put another $370,500 into his “Voters First Act for Congress” ballot measure, bringing his total out of pocket since October to just over $3.1 million. The proposed constitutional amendment would remove authority for setting California’s 53 Congressional district boundaries from the state Legislature, and would give that authority instead to the same Citizens Redistricting Commission that will soon be setting state Legislative boundaries (as required by 2008’s successful Proposition 11). He’s the only major donor to the campaign, and had until last Monday to gather and submit 694,354 registered voters’ valid signatures; county voter registrars and the Secretary of State’s office are now in the process of verifying them.

Anthem Blue Cross has been the target of a lot of political scorn since it announced insurance premium hikes of up to 39 percent a few months ago, but it’s still doling out money in Sacramento: The insurer last Thursday gave $2,000 to Garrett Yee, a Demcoratic primary candidate in the East Bay’s 20th Assembly District (the seat from which Alberto Torrico is term-limited out this year); $1,900 to incumbent Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana; and $1,000 to incumbent Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres.

Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner put another $196,680 into his own campaign last Monday, bringing his total out-of-pocket spending to $19,396,680 so far.

Former state Senate President Pro Tem and current Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata’s Hope 2010 ballot measure committee last Tuesday put another $40,000 into Californians for a Cure, the committee formed by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association to support the proposed tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research measure Perata helped author. This brings Hope 2010’s total ante to $320,000 so far. They have until May 17 to gather valid signatures from at least 433,971 registered voters in order to place the measure on November’s ballot.

Former state Controller and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate Steve Westly gave $5,000 last Wednesday to Californians for a Fresh Start, the committee pushing a proposed ballot measure for November that would replace the separate eight- and six-year term limits on future state Senators and Assemblymembers, respectively, with a 12-year limit on combined service in either or both chambers. The lion’s share of that measure’s financial backing (at least about $871,000 so far) has come from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.

On the celebrity watch, television producer (“Alias,” “Lost”) and movie director (“Cloverfield,” “Star Trek”) J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrath of Pacific Palisades – who gave $50,000 last November to state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign – gave $13,000 last week to Democratic state Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris’ campaign. Harris’ campaign also picked up $1,000 last Wednesday from San Francisco Giants former president and general managing partner Peter Magowan.

Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Abel Maldonado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General, ballot measures, campaign finance, Don Perata, Kamala Harris, redistricting, Steve Poizner | 4 Comments »

Bill Lockyer: Arnold right to veto gas-tax swap

The Legislature really dropped the ball with its version of the gas-tax-swap deal, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer told Alameda County officials today, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was right to promise a veto.

Lockyer @ AlaCo budget workgroup 3-17-10Lockyer addressed the county Board of Supervisors Budget Workgroup, with attendees including supervisors Keith Carson, Alice Lai-Bitker and Gail Steele; County Administrator Susan Muranishi; and dozens of county department heads and staffers, local nonprofit officials and other stakeholders.

Schwarzenegger’s version of the gas-tax-swap deal would’ve saved a lot of money, but the changes and compromises it underwent while wending its way through the Legislature reduced the General Fund savings to a fraction of what they had been, he said.

“Why do all this complicated shifting around if the net result is confusion,” Lockyer later elucidated outside the budget session. “It didn’t make sense to change everything around and have lawsuits about it … for a very modest net result.”

Lockyer said he also agrees with the governor’s pitch for a sales-tax exemption for green tech manufacturing equipment.

Inside the budget session, Lockyer had delivered a somewhat sobering assessment of the state’s fiscal situation – and so, the outlook for cities and counties – in the months to come.

Cash flow is fine now, he said, but if the Legislature and Schwarzenegger can’t reach a budget deal early in the summer, the state’s payments of gas tax funds, mental-health tax funds and other monies to cities, counties and school districts “almost inevitably” could be deferred for up to two months, to the tune of billions of dollars.

And Sacramento is counting on “unrealistically high” estimates of federal aid to help balance its books, meaning lawmakers and the governor will have to scramble to backfill an even bigger hole when that money from Washington doesn’t materialize.

Lockyer said he intends to sell about $14 billion worth of general obligation bonds this year to pay for infrastructure projects, and as much as $10 million (depending on when we have a budget deal) in short-term borrowing this summer to tide us through our annual cash-flow issues.

He said California gets a bad rap from bond-rating agencies, not because there’s any real risk of default – he’s constitutionally empowered to service the state’s debts no matter what the Legislature does or doesn’t do – but rather because of the widespread perception of legislative gridlock Sacramento exudes year after year, a perception unlikely to be dispelled so long as the state constitution requires two-thirds votes of the Legislature for all budget and tax bills. But with no significant chance of changing that any time soon and no chance of reforming Proposition 13 to allow for reassessment of commercial property, California will keep having to find ways to muddle through, he said.

Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Under: Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Bill Lockyer, California State Senate, state budget | No Comments »

Maldo withdrawn, re-submitted for Lt. Gov.

Looks like the governor has backed off his initial plan to swear in Abel Maldonado as lieutenant governor later this month despite last night’s Assembly vote – he has withdrawn Maldonado’s name from nomination and then resubmitted it, effectively restarting the 90-day clock for another vote.

Maldonado issued this statement:

“I’m humbled and thankful to my colleagues in the Senate for confirming me to the Lieutenant Governor’s office and very disappointed with yesterday’s show of extreme partisanship and politicking in the Assembly.”

“The inability to come to a simple majority consensus on important issues is why Californians are rightfully disillusioned by Sacramento politics. I’ve said time and time again—I put the people first. The office of Lieutenant Governor is their office—it does not belong to Democrats or Republicans. For this reason, I wholeheartedly support the rescinding of my nomination. We must do the people’s work first.

“I agree with the governor’s interpretation of the constitution, and furthermore, I agree that we cannot waste time and resources on a lawsuit sure to be brought by politicians trying to protect a seat they believe belongs to them. Our focus should be acting on the budget deficit and improving our economy.

“So, it’s with the people in mind that I refuse to participate in what Democrats have promised to be a costly, wasteful lawsuit over their inability to act.

“Let me be clear – I will not waste a dollar of tax payer money fighting the lawsuit Democrats are sure to bring to protect what they feel is their office. I also refuse to waste another minute of time that should be spent on the business of the people. It’s time to balance the budget and create jobs.

“I’m honored to accept the Governor’s re-nomination and implore my colleagues to reject partisan influences as my colleagues in the Senate exemplified yesterday.”

UPDATE @ 3:46 P.M. FRIDAY: Here’s the governor’s statement:

“I am grateful to the leadership of the California State Senate for acting decisively and in a bipartisan manner in confirming Senator Abel Maldonado to the post of Lieutenant Governor. The display of extreme partisanship among Democrats in the Assembly yesterday resulted in legislative stalemate that can only be resolved through protracted litigation.

“If we are going to move California forward, create jobs and get our economy back on track, the Assembly Democrats cannot continue the political paralysis that throws every difficult decision to the courts. This kind of hyper-partisanship is exactly what the voters have rejected time and time again. It doesn’t produce new jobs; it doesn’t balance our budget; it doesn’t lower people’s taxes or provide health care to one sick child. It has to stop.

“The California Constitution is clear: the Legislature must confirm or reject my nominee for Lieutenant Governor within 90 days. Refusal to make a decision results in the nominee taking office. I believe the public good is not served by continued paralysis and protracted litigation because the Assembly Democrats cannot produce a simple majority to make a decision.

“Therefore, in an effort to avoid wasting time and energy on litigation that should be spent passing a jobs package that will get Californians back to work, I intend to withdraw and resubmit the nomination of Abel Maldonado for Lieutenant Governor back to the legislature and ask the Assembly to take the vote again until a majority decision is reached, one way or another.

“I believe Senator Abel Maldonado is most qualified to be Lieutenant Governor and I am proud to re-nominate him. I urge the Assembly to set aside partisan bickering and act swiftly and decisively on his nomination.”

Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2010
Under: Abel Maldonado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lt. Governor | 6 Comments »

A Maldonado re-vote?

It’s still at least theoretically possible for Assembly Democrats to beat Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at his own game and reject state Sen. Abel Maldonado as lieutenant governor.

The Assembly voted 37-35 yesterday on confirming Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, as lieutenant governor. Assembly Democrats contend this is a rejection, as Maldonado didn’t get 41 votes to confirm. Schwarzenegger and Maldonado interpret the state constitution otherwise, arguing that the Assembly must act by majority either to confirm or reject Maldonado, or else Maldonado can just be sworn in 90 days after his nomination.

This no doubt has the California Supreme Court’s justices rubbing their temples in anticipation of a possible intervention so politically charged that it’s sure to leave everyone unhappy.

But that need not necessarily come to pass. The governor’s office confirmed to me today that under this interpretation, the Assembly could vote again between now and Feb. 21 – the 90-day mark – to either confirm or reject Maldonado with 41 votes. And seven Assembly members didn’t vote yesterday.

One will remain on the sidelines no matter what. Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, was on the campaign trail yesterday and absent from the vote, but issued a statement saying he would have abstained anyway. (Ed. note at 4:10 p.m.: Trevino informs me DeVore “actually was present on the Assembly floor for the morning vote. He was only gone for the afternoon session. Doesn’t affect his purposeful abstention, though.”)

“One year ago, I resigned as Assembly Minority Whip because I would not support the budget deal that led to the failed Proposition 1A — which would have been the largest state tax increase in American history. Senator Maldonado, by contrast, played a decisive role in putting 1A before the people. I won’t reward bad behavior with high office. It is in that spirit that I abstained from this vote.”

Today, campaign spokesman Joshua Trevino told me DeVore will abstain if there’s a re-vote.

“As he just told E.J. Schultz at the Fresno Bee (via Twitter), the GOP Assembly caucus has decided to support Maldonado. If Chuck votes no, it will be more a hit at them than the nominee per se. An abstention registers disapproval of the nomination without expressing direct disapproval of his fellow Republicans. It also serves as a de facto no when the affirmations are tallied.”

Two Assembly Democrats – Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, and Mary Salas, D-Chula Vista – opposed Maldonado in an earlier round of voting, but didn’t vote in the final tally. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that they would again oppose Maldonado in a re-vote. That would make it 37-37 – still four votes shy of a majority to confirm or reject.

Three Assembly Democrats – Hector De La Torre, D-South Gate; Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles; and Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina – were present but didn’t vote. Assemblywoman Wilmer Carter, D-Rialto, was absent.

I queried all four about what they would do if there’s a re-vote. Carter spokeswoman Ellen Braunstein responded to my query just before noon: “I haven’t been able to contact the Assemblymember yet, and will wait for her response.”

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the other three have responded yet. Perhaps they were busy having their heads knocked together by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Speaker-elect John Perez and/or California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, all of whom might like to see them fall into the party line to sink Maldonado once and for all.

Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2010
Under: Abel Maldonado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Chuck DeVore, John Perez, Karen Bass, Lt. Governor | 3 Comments »