OK, here we go. Arnie did the State of the State tonight.
High points: He’s insisting that California’s Disability Insurance (that’s workmen’s comp) system must be fixed. He also proposes to do whatever else is necessary to make Cali more business-friendly. Energy industry regulation needs rethinking. Education, including state college and university systems, needs more support, more local flexibility and fewer Sacramento-mandated unfunded requirements.
The tripled car tax is gone. (Yeah!) SB60 (drivers licenses for illegal aliens) was rescinded.
The accumulations of old bonds come due in June. He’s gotten the legislature to agree to a new recovery bond measure to consolidate the old loans and there will be no new bonds issued to cover operating expenses.
The state income increased 25% over the last several years, and over the same period state spending increased 43% (this from the auditors). He’s not planning to raise taxes; there will be state spending cuts; the alternative appears to be bankruptcy. This would be bad.
He plans to hit the gaming tribes for a share of the gaming revenues. (Yeay!) He proposes more money for the classroom and eliminating 2 ½ billion worth of categorical programs (special interests, all). He also proposes giving local school districts more flexibility and limit college fees to a capped schedule of expenses. There will be a new UC campus in Merced; he feels that viable colleges are a long-term investment we have to have.
He wants to abolish four unnecessary state commissions; consolidation of the remaining overlapping functions, and modernization of the antiquated purchasing system. (The auditors were very critical of the overlapping functions and unnecessary commissions.)
He is going hunting for jobs for Cali. More business, more jobs = more income and less unemployment costs for the state. He figures this has to be easier than selling theater tickets to, say, Red Sonia. Workmen’s comp costs are twice the national average. He wants to revamp it for better medical care and less lawyer/judge involvement (we’ll be watching this one closely).
Re energy; he finds the regulatory structure is flawed at best. (No surprise felt in my chair. Probably news only to state energy regulators.) There are 13 different state energy agencies. He wants to change it. Details to follow.
We need more energy and we need better prices for the power at the user level. (Duh) We need better energy conservation and cleaner production; new homes using partial solar power and retrofitting of existing structures to provide for better energy efficiency (my SDG&E bill for a two bedroom condo was $153.00 last month. Excessive? My sister with her $49 dollar December power bill in snowy Denver thinks so.)
Arnie proposes to aggressively defend Cali military bases from the next round of base closures and realignment. (Jobs again, don’t you know)
Well, that’s Cliffs Notes version of the report. Any of you ex-Cali folks ready to move back? The whole thing is a little scant on specific details, which we’ll all be waiting for with some anxiety. There was also an assortment of general “We can Do This” remarks scattered throughout the speech.
The news then followed the State of the State broadcast with appearances from about twenty-seven different special interest groups. Each one of those folks was sure that their own particular program is more necessary than any of the others, and that they need more money, not less. Hmmmm. Pattern here?