Cliff dwellers

Dec 3, 2012

The Golden State, which by most indications is strengthening its economy, improving its credit and lowering unemployment, may get hammered again if we tumble over the "fiscal cliff."


From the Chronicle's Pamela Nonga Ngue and Michelle Murphy: "California stands to lose as much as $4.5 billion in federal funding and more than 200,000 jobs next year if Congress fails to reach a deficit reduction agreement by Dec. 31."


"The automatic cuts, part of a larger package of steep spending reductions originally intended to pressure Congress to address the national debt, are now coming into sharper focus as the "fiscal cliff" deadline approaches, and some fear they could damage the state's economy."


"Low-income Californians are especially vulnerable because they rely on federal programs for services ranging from child care and health screenings to education and family violence prevention."


It's swearing-in day today, and with two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature, the Democrats are solidly in the saddle, while Republicans are a dwindling  species.


From the Ventura County Star's Timm Herdt: "When the Legislature convenes Monday, for the first time in memory there will be no Republican in the state Senate representing any portion of Ventura County — a distinction once held by such notables as U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, the late Los Angeles Police Chief Ed Davis and former U.S. Rep. Bob Lagomarsino."


"Over in the Assembly, two of the three lawmakers who will be sworn in to represent portions of Ventura County will be Republicans. For second-term Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, of Camarillo, and freshman Scott Wilk, of Santa Clarita, that's the good news. The bad news is that these two representatives from Ventura County will together make up nearly 8 percent of the Assembly's entire GOP delegation."


"For Republicans in Sacramento, the opening of the 2013-14 legislation will mark the beginning of what could be a very challenging two years. For the first time since 1883, when Chester Arthur was president, Democrats will have a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature."

Speaking of the swearing-in, the 2012-13 Legislature is one for the history books.


From the Bee's Jim Sanders: Frazier and Bigelow are two of 39 new members to be sworn in today, the largest freshman class since 1966. Bigelow will be part of a Republican caucus that is outnumbered by Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin for the first time since the 1880s."


"Democrats will control both legislative houses by a supermajority for the first time since 1883. The party holds 29 of 40 seats in the Senate, 55 of 80 in the Assembly."


"Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have urged restraint, however, saying they have no plans to hike taxes."

For bookworms, former Gov,. Arnold Schwarzenegger's memoir leaves a lot to be desired  if you're looking for the definitive inside account of Sacramento power politics.


From A.G. Block in Capitol Weekly: "Say, kids, I recently spent a fantastic week in the company of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former tank driver in the Austrian Army. Schwarzenegger, who some time ago moved from the Alps to Brentwood, published an “unbelievably true life story” this fall, and it was my responsibility to worry through it on behalf of Capitol Weekly."


"First, critics dismissed the book as “light.” Beg to differ. A 646-page hardback is not light. In fact, FedEx used a forklift to dump it on the porch, and it took a team of Clydesdales to drag it through the front door. That said, it is ironic that a celebrity whose fame grew from bulk and muscle should produce a memoir so lacking bulk and muscle. The images sprayed into it amount to autobiographical graffiti; “profound” was not a priority..."


"There is one lapse in this attention to detail: He provides little insight about his career as a politician. Here, as other reviewers have noted, he breezes along the surface of his term as “The Governator,” offering nothing of value at precisely the point when he might help us appreciate how government works and why it sometimes fails. As a result, he squanders a chance to serve the broader public interest."


The public's attention on the November ballot focused on the big-ticket measures such as Propositions 30 and 32, but one measure that was largely ignored, Proposition 39, means hefty money for energy-efficiency in schools.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "By overwhelmingly passing Proposition 39, voters closed a tax loophole on out-of-state corporations that will generate $1.1 billion a year. But the measure, buried in a crowded ballot, also required that half of that money fund projects to install new windows, better insulation, modern lighting and more efficient heating and air conditioning at thousands of public schools and other government buildings over the next five years."


"That windfall, roughly $550 million a year, or $2.75 billion before it sunsets in 2018, dwarfs anything that California or any other state has ever spent on energy efficiency for public buildings."


"The new program is on par with the $3 billion that voters approved in 2004 for stem cell research and the $3.3 billion that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger committed to his "Million Solar Roofs" plan in 2006."

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