"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly returned his attention Monday to universal
, a subject he hoped to make part of his legacy before
the state had to focus on the more basic task of paying
its bills amid a multibillion-dollar deficit," reports Kevin Yamamura in the Bee.
"The Republican governor, along with Washington Gov.
Chris Gregoire, hosted the fifth and final regional White House health
care forum in Los Angeles. The town-hall style meeting came as Congress is constructing
a health care overhaul plan.
"President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have
taken the lead on health care this year after states
and cities pursued their own universal coverage efforts
in recent years.
"'The action is now,' Schwarzenegger said. 'Not acting would be irresponsible. We've got to act and we've got to create the action, and this is the year we
have got to do it.'"
The LAT's Lisa Girion and Noam Levey write: "The forum, the fifth in a series the White House organized around the country over the last month, comes as senior Democrats on
Capitol Hill move ahead on drafting legislation to
be introduced later this spring to overhaul the nation's healthcare system.
"The president and his congressional allies have pledged
that the bill will expand coverage to some 46 million uninsured people, rein in costs and improve
the quality of care.
"The White House billed the five forums as a way to
get public input. But the invitation-only event in Los Angeles was clearly programmed to
showcase the broad goals Obama has said he wants included
in the legislation, including an emphasis on prevention,
as well as secure and affordable coverage for everyone,
regardless of age or preexisting conditions.
"Schwarzenegger, who hosted the event with Washington
Gov. Chris Gregoire, marveled at the White House support
for reform. 'Isn't it nice to have a president who is passionate about
healthcare?' Schwarzenegger said. 'I love it.'"
While the governor was touting health care reform,
the impact of the February budget deal on health benefits
is setting in.
"Thousands of poor, elderly and disabled Inland residents
will lose their state-funded medical and dental coverage and social services
on July 1 because California will not receive enough federal
stimulus money to prevent nearly $1 billion in program cuts," reports Lora Hines in the Press-Enterprise.
"The cuts will include close to $125 million in Medi-Cal benefits, including adult dental, optometric and
optician, podiatry, speech therapy and audiology services.
Another $78 million will come from In-Home Supportive Services, which includes a caregiver
wage cap of $9.50 per hour, reduced from $12.10 per hour.
"Last month, California Department of Finance Director
and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer
announced that the federal stimulus bill will provide
about $8.2 billion to go toward California's general fund between now and June 30, 2010. The state needed roughly $10 billion to avoid cuts and higher taxes included in
the budget deal that lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
reached in February."
The recent state bond sale has done little to kickstart hundreds of stalled infrastructure
projects, reports the Chron's Wyatt Buchanan.
"Thousands of infrastructure projects across California
that have been
on hold since December will not be funded in the coming
finance officials said Monday, while hundreds of others
will restart as
a result of the state's recent bond sale.
"The decision not to fund many transportation and conservation
was based largely on predictions that California's cash flow will be
extremely tight in the next year, officials said."
Debra Saunders talks to Tom Campbell and assesses his race for governor.
"It may be a long shot, but some political insiders
wonder if Campbell could repeat the example of Gray
Davis - the David who beat moneyed goliaths Al Checchi and
Jane Harman to win the governor's seat in 1998. They both had money and lots of press coverage, but
the most experienced candidate, Davis, won first the
primary, then the general election. (Yes, I know there was this recall thing a few years
later, but that's another story.)
"Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies
in Los Angeles, noted that as with Davis, Campbell's only hope would be "if Poizner and Whitman knock each other off - and that's a possibility."
"'Maybe competence wins out,' Stern added."
Ah, but this is California. So, probably not.
"Campbell's other gamble is to be the Republican who backs Proposition
1A, the spending-cap-but-it-comes-with-tax-increases measure that will be on the May 19 special election ballot. Whitman and Poizner both
oppose the measure being championed by Schwarzenegger,
Democratic legislative leaders and the handful of Republicans
who voted for Sacramento's most recent budget."
In other longshot news, "A week after losing his senior campaign advisor, Lt.
Gov. and gubernatorial hopeful John Garamendi has a new 'messaging and communications consultant,'" writes Peter Hecht on Capitol Alert.
"The Garamendi for Governor 2010 has turned a veteran liberal talk show host, Peter B. Collins, who most recently was the voice of the Peter B. Collins
Show on KRXA 540-AM in Monterey. Collins, 55, who started in radio in Chicago in the 1970s, went on to host Bay Area talk programs on ABC-owned KGO-AM and CBS-owned KRQR.
"Collins has served as board president of the Freedom
Foundation, a non-profit group that provides legal assistance to inmates
and investigates suspected wrongful convictions. He
has worked on political campaigns for Nancy Pelosi,
Pete McCloskey and the American Nurses Association."
Collins might want to start by making sure his new client isn't flirting with Congressional runs while putting together
a race for governor.
"California's two longest rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin,
were named the country's most endangered waterways by an environmental advocacy
group that considers them threatened by outdated water
management and poor flood planning," writes the AP's Garance Burke.
"American Rivers, a conservation group that compiles
the annual list, chose the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system because its collapse could
endanger the water supply of 25 million Californians, flood the state's capital and damage the delicate freshwater delta
where the two rivers twine.
"'The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is on the verge of losing important
fish species, and the communities that surround it
already don't have adequate protection from their levees,' said Steve Rothert
, California director of the Washington-based nonprofit. 'The health of the delta depends directly on maintaining
the health of these two rivers that feed it.'"
And finally, in a new interview with the Times of London,
Bob Dylan breaks down Barack Obama's family history.
""He’s got an interesting background. He’s like a fictional character,
but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never
Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like
Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think
Barack has Jefferson Davis
back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his
father. An African
intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage -- cattle raiders, lion
killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would
meet and fall in love."