Tuesday, January 11, 2005
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Throwing Down the Gauntlet
By RAY HAYNES
(The writer represents the 36th Senate District, which includes western Riverside County and northern San Diego County. He is also the Senate Republican whip.)
Last week, the Legislature began its new session, and the Governor delivered his state of the State address. In his address, Governor Schwarzenegger laid out his vision for the next year in California, saying, that when he took over, California “faced economic ruin” amidst a $22 billion deficit.
After one year in office, he quite correctly stated the people of California, through the recall, and Propositions 57 and 58, rescued California from bankruptcy. He followed up by saying: “Last year we stopped the bleeding, this year we must heal the patient.”
He then laid out an ambitious agenda for budget, education, government and political reform. He called upon the Legislature to join him in “regaining control of California’s financial future ... restoring the trust of the people ... [and] introducing a bold, new era of reform for California.”
He could have saved his breath.
Even before his state of the State address was delivered, the Democrat leaders in Sacramento threw down the gauntlet last month. They set out an agenda to directly challenge the Governor and the Republicans in the Legislature, claiming they have a mandate for bigger government, higher taxes, and more government intrusion into businesses and families this year. The recall is over, they think, and they honestly believe that people in California want them, not the Governor, to run things.
So-they announced their agenda, and then set about to completely exclude Republicans from any participation in the legislative process. They directly challenged the Governor, and announced their intention to coddle the special interests that have dominated Sacramento for so long.
The Governor said “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. This state is spending money on automatic pilot.” The Democrats said: “We are going to raise taxes, and continue to feed our special interest friends with your hard-earned money.” The Governor said “We want to reward good teachers with higher pay and get rid of bad teachers.” The Democrats said: “We want to protect the union and keep giving a failing system even more money.”
The Governor said: “We want a real democracy in California, not election districts designed as an incumbent protection racket.” The Democrats said: “We want to keep our jobs without being accountable to people. Who cares about democracy?”
The Governor said: “We need a 21st century government for a 21st century state.” The Democrats said: “We want the 19th century patronage machine we have had for the last 40 years, and, by the way, we control the Legislature, so Governor-you can stuff it.” The Governor said: “I am going to take my ideas to the people if the Legislature isn’t going to act.”
Of course, the Democrats are off to a bad start. They announced they were going to re-introduce most of the legislation that the Governor vetoed last year. Gay marriage was the first bill, then higher taxes on everybody they don’t like. Drivers’ licenses for those who are breaking our country’s immigration laws, more regulation on business and an increase in the minimum wage that will put every restaurant in the state out of business are at the top of their agenda.
The Legislature has until the end of March to act, and, if it doesn’t, the Governor is going straight to the people. If the legislative leadership requires the Governor to go the initiative route to get the reforms California needs, they will render the Legislature a useless appendage of government. If the Democrats kill his legislative agenda, we might as well adjourn at the end of March and come back in two years. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Let the battle begin.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company