The Times' Evan Halper does a little post-game analysis
of how the state got its earliest budget in five years in one of the weekend's best analyses of the budget fight. The conclusion: Tactical surrender. "Let's give Schwarzenegger the spending plan he wants
, the Democrats decided. After all, the budget fight was not really about the budget; it was about the special election the governor had called for Nov. 8."
The Democrats may have deprived Schwarzenegger of an opportunity to build public anger against them
. But they also have given him a nearly on-time spending plan that virtually mirrors his own draft budget. It's an extraordinary concession, and something that could help Schwarzenegger resurrect his plunging approval ratings. "The Democrats gave the governor something very important in return for absolutely nothing," [Republican strategist Dan] Schnur
As Dan Weintraub puts it
: "At a time when they would like to be raising the minimum wage, expanding the government's role in health care, strengthening regulation of business and raising taxes to boost education spending, the members of the majority party are instead in survival mode."
Though Democrats may have caved on the budget fight, not everyone is enamored with the deal that is expected to be signed into law this morning in the Capitol Rotunda. Count Fresno Bee columnist Jim Boren
among the unimpressed. "Wipe away the political rhetoric, you'll find that California government continues to cater to the powerful and ignore its poorest citizens
. It's all in the $117.5 billion state budget if you'll take the time to analyze the details emerging about the document."
As for the special election, the next bit of excitement is the new lawsuit filed by Bill Lockyer
in an effort to get the redistricting measure off the ballot. The suit sets up a showdown between the AG and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson
, who says Lockyer is trying to get the measure thrown off the ballot on a technicality. Of course, if Lockyer is successful, it could give the governor some political cover to postpone votes on the other ballot measures until June...
Even if the redistricting measure stays on the ballot, it misses a major problem with California's legislative districts
, writes the New America Foundation
's Heather Barbour
. "[W]hile a more neutral drawing of legislative district boundaries may lessen the symptoms of California's political disorder, it won't cure the disease. The real problem in California politics is the size of legislative districts -- as measured by population, not their shape.
"Unfortunately, there's no simple solution to our problem. If we cut districts to the scale our forefathers enjoyed, we'd have more than 3,000 legislators. That's simply not realistic."
It does, however, get political consultants licking their chops.
Legislators are back in action this week before their four-week-long recess. And when they get back, gay marriage is likely to be one of the issues they'll be talking about. After losing a close fight in the Assembly, Mark Leno is back with a new vehicle for the hot-button issue.
Other issues that make Steve Lawrence's run down of what is next for the Legislature include the Bay Bridge, fire-safe cigarettes, and the name of the American League baseball team from Anaheim.
Will the budget accord call off the critics of the governor's smoking tent? Anti-smoking demonstrators gathered at the Capitol Saturday in an effort to shut the tent down.
Yup, for the next few weeks, Capitol reporters will have to decide whether the smoking tent squabble or the declaration of California Salmon Month will lead the state news sections. An anxious public awaits...
From our Future Told-You-So Files, just remember this: If and when we all find ourselves writing about Executive Life on our front pages every day, Dan Walters has been on this horse for years. He reprises the story in today's column. "State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who seized the troubled insurer in 1991 and then approved its sale, desperately wants to deflect the onus for the multibillion-dollar debacle that left tens of thousands of disabled and retired annuitants twisting in the wind. But try as he might to shift the burden onto the French buyers, it appears they will at most cede only a tiny fraction of their huge profits from the transaction."
The Merc News writes the bio on freshman Assemblyman Alberto Torrico. "Just finishing his first six months in office, Torrico -- the freshman from Newark -- is content with not hogging the spotlight. And yet the 36-year-old baby-faced legislator is a unique character in Sacramento: the embodiment of California's social, cultural, religious and political diversity."
"Torrico is Asian and Latino. He's a tithe-giving, born-again Christian-Democrat. And while his values often tilt to the right, his bleeding heart leans the other way. If all that's not unlikely enough, at the end of long days he'd much rather drive a hundred miles to be with his family than hobnob with Capitol heavyweights."
"'We have an opportunity to shape what the state is going to look like for our kids and grandchildren,' he said. 'We have an awesome responsibility.'"