January 6, 2005

THIS IS WHAT ONE LOOKS LIKE (via Glenn Dryfoos):

Governor Lays Out Ambitious Agenda Certain to Draw Fire
: In a combative speech, Schwarzenegger seeks spending caps, a revised state worker pension plan, teacher merit pay and cuts in bureaucracy. (Peter Nicholas, January 6, 2005, LA Times)

In a broad challenge to California's entrenched special interests, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger implored the Legislature on Wednesday to restrain spending, revise "out of control" pensions, reward the best schoolteachers and "expel" the worst.

Schwarzenegger said in his annual State of the State speech in the Assembly chamber that he would devote his second year in power to ambitious changes that would reverberate in California and beyond, from classrooms to Congress; drug companies to prisons.

If Schwarzenegger prevails, the most influential members of California's congressional delegation might find themselves running in reshaped districts with thousands of unfamiliar constituents. The poorest Californians could be paying less for prescription medication. And teachers deemed inept might be deprived of raises, no matter how long they'd been on the job.

Using the speech to roll out a 2005 agenda certain to antagonize powerful public employees unions, liberal Democrats and even Republican allies, Schwarzenegger said politicians risked a rebellion if they rejected his sweeping proposals. His theme was more combative, a departure from the inclusive approach he favored early in his term.

The governor described Sacramento as a city "in the grip" of special interests. "If we here in this chamber don't work together to reform the government," he said, "the people will rise up and reform it themselves. And I will join them. And I will fight with them."

Schwarzenegger said he would call a special legislative session today that would center on four issues: spending limits, teacher merit pay, legislative and congressional redistricting, and an overhaul of the state pension system. If passed by lawmakers, some of the moves would require voter approval in a special election that Schwarzenegger would schedule this summer.

If the Legislature defies him, he might call a special election anyway, taking his proposals directly to voters in what would most likely be an expensive campaign. [...]

Schwarzenegger said he would create a prescription drug discount card that would be "available to nearly 5 million low-income Californians, at prices competitive with those from Canada." [...]

The governor's spending restraints, in particular, threaten to curb money for health, welfare and social programs especially important to Democratic constituencies.

His plan would work this way: If lawmakers failed to pass a budget by the constitutional deadline, the governor would call a special session to close any spending gap. The budget facing the governor this year already bears an $8.1-billion shortfall. [...]

Teachers unions, a powerful lobbying force in the Capitol, are expected to mobilize against the governor's plans to institute merit-based pay, a slap at traditional salary scales based on seniority. [...]

State employees unions are girding for a clash over Schwarzenegger's push to overhaul the pension system. He wants to switch from a system that gives new workers a fixed sum at the end of state service, to one that promises fixed contributions like those made to private-sector 401(k) plans. [...]

A year ago he commissioned the California Performance Review, the most ambitious government reorganization study since Ronald Reagan was governor in the 1960s.

The review team recommended a top-to-bottom overhaul of the bureaucracy, eliminating more than 100 boards and commissions and consolidating power within the executive branch.

For all the media talk of how he's a different kind of Republican, Mr. Schwarzenegger seems like nothing so much here as a child of the Contract with America and of George W. Bush. He's pretty much your garden variety Republican these days.

Governor Targets Public Retirement Plans: Unions oppose proposal to make state pension packages more like private-sector 401(k)s. (Evan Halper, January 6, 2005, LA Times)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday called for fundamental change in pensions for all government workers in California — schoolteachers and garbage collectors, police and policy analysts — a step that over time would reduce retirement security in the public sector, which employs one in eight California workers.

Schwarzenegger said the changes were needed to reduce costs for state and local governments. The state legislative analyst's office says California's public employee pensions are among the most generous in the nation.

SS reform writ small.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2005 10:22 AM

An Austrian who perfoms SS reform ? Be careful with those abbreviations, Orrin.

Posted by: Peter at January 6, 2005 2:00 PM

"public sector...employs one in eight California workers"

Small wonder the state is blue, but wallowing in red ink.

Posted by: Mike Leggett at January 6, 2005 8:10 PM

Unless Arnold can change the legislature he will not be able to change anything. He sees this too so he is trying to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and into those of an 'independent' or bipartisan appointed panel.

I think he may have to supersede partisan politics and run a slate of candidates from both parties who support his plan. A Fusion or Unity ticket may be in the offing. Otherwise, he'll just be Jesse Ventura with a funny accent.

Posted by: Bart at January 7, 2005 7:53 AM