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Matthew N. Klink - Contributor

Matthew N. Klink is a writer and political consultant who works for Republican candidates at the federal, state and local level. He can be reached at [go to Klink index]

A Quick End To The Era of Good Feelings
The same old tune replays in the Legislature
[Matthew N. Klink] 11/20/03

The era of good feelings in Sacramento lasted all of 24 hours.

After a short but well-received inaugural address, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took office Monday afternoon and spoke of the need to end California’s dysfunctional “insider” political culture. On Tuesday, Democrats in the State Legislature responded with, well, more of the same strategies and tactics that have made Sacramento a political wasteland for the last five years.

Delay. Obfuscation. Political pandering. This is California Politics – and changing it will require a concerted, focused effort from a reform-minded Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s first official act as governor was to rescind the tripling of the car tax. Even the announcement of doing away with this measure received thundering applause from the 7,000 inaugural guests this past Monday. Schwarzenegger’s move is popular with virtually everyone in California – everyone except for Democrats in the State Legislature who thirst after these “needed” resources like habitual alcoholics in a never-ending quest for their next drink.

On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold attempted to tackle California’s biggest obstacle - an out-of-control state budget deficit. It’s obvious to anyone who manages a family budget that you cannot spend more than you take in - unless you’re in the state legislature. Schwarzenegger spoke of a likely $15 billion bond issue as a temporary stopgap measure to close the budget deficit and as a way to find long-term structural solutions to our fiscal nightmare.

This initiative should be popular with both Republicans and Democrats because GOPers don’t have to raise taxes and Democrats don’t have to cut precious social programs - even though they’ve become especially bloated in the last five years. But, as one would suspect, Senate President John Burton, Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson and other liberals in the State Legislature want nothing of it. Their solution is simple. Raise taxes. Soak the rich.

Next, in an attempt to stop the widely unpopular SB 60 from becoming law, Republicans introduced a motion to waive usual floor rules so the Assembly could vote to repeal SB 60. As one would suspect, Democrats quickly torpedoed this motion, saying that the measure should be sent to a committee for a hearing.

Everyone in the State Legislature knows what SB 60 is about. SB 60 grants illegal aliens driver's licenses -- and is likely an underhanded first-step to ultimately giving them voting rights. Former Gov. Gray Davis feebly pandered to Latino legislators for anti-recall votes by signing legislation he had vetoed twice previously. Unfortunately for Davis - but fortunately for the rest of California – Latino voters did not flock to Davis following this vote.

In spite of SB 60's overwhelming unpopularity, getting rid of this misguided legislation will prove difficult. Every single Democrat in the state legislature voted for it. Latino legislators talk about finding a “compromise” - code word for allowing it to stay in place in some way, shape or form.

Watch out. Legislation to repeal SB 60 will languish in committee for months -in spite of the fact that it will quickly pass if and when a vote is called on this widely unpopular subject.

On Tuesday, the true colors of Democrats in the California Legislature shone through - and it’s not a very bright or pretty picture. Gov. Schwarzenegger,on behalf of the majority of Californians, we wish you the absolute best of luck in solving the fiscal and political mess that is California. Your ideas are excellent; your enthusiasm much needed.

But be prepared to take your cause to and make your case with California voters early and often. You have a mandate to act quickly and decisively. Don’t squander it - and don’t let Democrats in the State Legislature convince you to “go along to get along.”

copyright 2003 Matthew N. Klink




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