Schwarzenegger Flips Off California Legislature

A hidden message from the governor:

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is ticked off.

He’s tired of signing bills that don’t address the pet causes he deems important. So when another unworthy bill crossed his desk recently for signing — addressing funding issues for the Port of San Francisco — the guv vetoed it and sent lawmakers a little note saying why. Only the note said a little more than lawmakers were expecting.

Buried in the text was a hidden message directed at State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, author of the bill, according to the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Ammiano had strongly criticized the governor in early October and reportedly told Schwarzenegger at the time to “kiss my gay ass.” Schwarzenegger’s veto letter, issued a couple of days later, reads:

arnolds-kiss-off

Missed the hidden code? The Bay Guardian has helpfully picked it out:

1027fu

When asked by the Guardian if the message was intentional, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman said only, “what a strange coincidence.” The paper noted that he was “clearly being sarcastic.”

… water reform, prison reform, and health care are indeed the major issues that California representatives should be dealing with before even considering for a second any more hideous spending programs with no end in sight.

I understand the Governor’s frustration and do realize that this message is obviously and intentional note of frustration and rebuke.

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California Budget – Schwarzenegger Cuts Another $500 Million

Governor Schwarzenegger used the line item veto to slash the bloated California budget by another $500 million:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday signed a budget plan sent to him by lawmakers to close the state’s monumental deficit, using his veto pen to impose nearly $500 million in additional cuts.

The new reductions will affect child welfare and children’s healthcare, the elderly, state parks and AIDS treatment and prevention, going beyond the dramatic cuts that were part of the deal Schwarzenegger negotiated with legislative leaders.

Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate reacted angrily to his use of the line-item veto, disputing the Republican governor’s authority to wield that power in this situation and portraying him as callous.

Schwarzenegger’s aides said the cuts were proper, and the governor said they were necessary.

“This has been a very tough budget, probably the toughest since I have been in office here in Sacramento,” Schwarzenegger said. “This budget is kind of like the good, the bad and the ugly.”

The good, the governor said, is that the plan does not raise taxes and includes changes he says will make government more efficient, such as reorganizing and abolishing some boards and commissions.

The bad are the deep cuts to state programs that will touch millions of Californians, particularly its most vulnerable citizens, he said.

The ugly, Schwarzenegger added, are the new reductions he made because lawmakers left town after failing to fully close the state’s deficit.

The Assembly on Friday capped a 20-hour session by rejecting provisions worth $1.1 billion that had been agreed to by the governor and legislative leaders.

The extra cuts the governor made Tuesday — $489 million — took nearly $80 million that pays for workers who help abused and neglected children; $50 million from Healthy Families, which provides healthcare to children in low-income families; $50 million from services for developmentally delayed children under age 3; $16 million from domestic-violence programs; and $6.3 million from services for the elderly. Among other reductions was $6.2 million more from parks, which could result in the closure of 100, rather than 50, of California’s 279 state parks.

In addition, Schwarzenegger effectively gutted a program that provides local governments with funding to encourage property owners to preserve open space and to use land for agriculture.

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an advocacy group, called the cut to Healthy Families “particularly galling.” He said a coalition, including his group, is spearheading a campaign to put a universal children’s healthcare measure on the fall 2010 ballot.

“A struggling family puts their kids first,” Lempert said. “What the governor and what the state has done is the opposite.”

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), in questioning the legality of Schwarzenegger’s moves, suggested that the governor’s veto power can be used only on original appropriations. The new spending plan is a revision of a budget Schwarzenegger and lawmakers ratified in February.

Both leaders said they would attempt to restore the cuts when they return from recess, in mid-August, and Bass said she would seek an opinion from the Legislature’s legal office.

In a long and harsh statement to the media, Bass called the governor “so eager to tear down the safety net that he appears willing to break the law to do it.” She faulted Schwarzenegger for rejecting taxes that Democrats proposed on “big oil and big tobacco” and instead attacking “the sick, the young, the elderly and battered women.”

In response, Schwarzenegger’s aides said Bass and the Assembly had forced his hand.

“The governor understands how difficult these cuts are,” said his spokesman, Aaron McLear. “But because the speaker sent him an unbalanced budget, he had no choice but to make these cuts.”

Assembly lawmakers turned down a plan to seize $1 billion in gas tax money that belongs to local governments and rejected a new offshore oil drilling project that could have produced $100 million in royalties.

The Senate approved the entire budget deal, including those measures, early Friday morning.

By killing the two proposals, lawmakers wiped out a reserve fund the governor has insisted upon to cushion future shortfalls. His aides said the cuts announced Tuesday would allow the state to put aside $500 million.

Even as he signed the plan, Schwarzenegger warned that the state’s troubles were not over. Finance officials are already predicting future deficits, and the governor said he was ready, “if our revenues drop further, to make the necessary cuts and live within our means.”

Overall, the new budget is expected to fundamentally alter life for many Californians, with reductions to K-12 education, state colleges and universities, healthcare and public assistance for the elderly and the poor.

It appropriates billions of dollars from local governments, which could force cities and counties to further reduce their own spending on roads, law enforcement and other services.

The package was approved to address a deficit that administration officials previously projected at $26.3 billion. Schwarzenegger’s aides now say that, although the budget plan contains $24 billion in solutions, it will close the entire shortfall because of changing revenue forecasts, a recalibration of education funding formulas and a decision to reduce the reserve fund.

The plan’s cuts, accounting maneuvers and other measures should soon enable California to resume paying all of its bills again. From July 2 until the end of the day Monday, the state had issued 209,219 IOUs worth $1.09 billion, according to Garin Casaleggio of the state controller’s office.

The state’s credit rating has declined to nearly junk status after two months during which elected officials could not agree on how to resolve the crisis.

I agree that the budget is a lot like the good, the bad, and the ugly. But in a different way:

The good: No more taxes for now.
The bad: No tax cuts.
The ugly: The tax hikes that will follow sooner or later if the budget is not slashed further.

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Schwarzenegger Plays Hardball with California Legislature

With California operating in de-facto bankruptcy mode, Schwarzenegger threatens to shut down state government:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed Wednesday to let California government come to a “grinding halt” rather than agree to a high-interest loan to keep the state afloat if he and the Legislature do not close the yawning budget gap in coming weeks.

(…)

State finance officials say California coffers will be empty in late July unless the projected $24-billion budget shortfall is resolved quickly. Schwarzenegger said that emergency borrowing would be too expensive and that his threat to block it was necessary to prod lawmakers into swift action.

A loan would only “give them another reason why we don’t have to do it now,” the governor said. “What we need to do is just to basically cut off all the funding and just let them have a taste of what it is like when the state comes to a shutdown — grinding halt.”

(…)

In the Senate, Democrats have sketched a counter-proposal that would drain the state’s reserves and rely on hopes for a rosier economic future to hold off the deepest of the cuts. Their plan would resolve up to $20 billion of the projected $24-billion deficit.

The governor called that approach “hallucinatory” on Tuesday and “irresponsible” on Wednesday. “We have not hit the bottom” of the economic crisis, he told The Times.

Some rank-and-file Democrats are holding out hope of raising taxes to close the deficit. And the state’s largest labor group, the Service Employees International Union, launched a $1-million TV advertising campaign Wednesday to press for more taxes on oil, tobacco and liquor.

Eliseo Medina, SEIU’s national executive vice president, said the governor “ought to be worrying about trying to maintain services instead of trying to kill the messenger.”

I say: Eliseo Medina is the one who ought to be worrying … about having his head examined. California is suffocating from over regulation and over taxation. It is already the highest taxed state in the country. And his recommendation to fix a structural budget problem is more taxes. You can’t make this stuff up …

Schwarzenegger said the financial crisis should be the impetus for a leaner and more functional state government. But he said he had no confidence in the Legislature to change the status quo and hoped a constitutional convention — the radical notion of tossing out California’s oft-amended legal framework to start from scratch — would.

I applaud Schwarzenegger for the unmistakable stance he is taking. Unlike other politicians he is not trying to use the financial crisis as an opportunity and an excuse to expand government powers, he is actually trying to do the exact opposite, to finally dismantle its bureaucracies and shrink its size and scope. This is what will have to happen eventually sooner or later anyway.

What is also interesting is that he is actually one of the few politicians who realize that we have not even come close to a bottom and that there is more pain to come.

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Schwarzenegger – You Liar

He promised California change. Change from an over-taxed, and over-regulated regime. He brought more of the same…

…a time will come, when Californians will stand up against these depredations. Let’s make sure it happens rather sooner than later.

Please also consider California – What Has Become of You?

Enough is enough! California, Please Send a Message!

It’s time to cut spending, not raise taxes. California, please send a message to the legislature for other states to follow. Tell the spendthrifts to go to hell. It’s easy to do. Just vote No on 1A through 1E and Yes on 1F. And I still want to see “Proposition Mish” to lower the pay of all government employees starting with the California legislature.

Enough Is Enough: Let The Tax Revolts Begin

Nationwide, we need to elect representatives who will cut spending, not raise taxes or play shell games to hide deficits.

The message is catching on. See what happened at the Tax Revolts in Fullerton:

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