Reactions to the State of the State

Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco
I am encouraged that the Governor appears to be moving away from partisan politics and towards collaboration on transportation and other vital infrastructure investments. These are priorities for all San Franciscans and, frankly, they’ve been neglected for far too long.

These investments should also help create the kind of jobs that support
and protect families and increase our tax base … If the Governor is prepared to move beyond partisan gridlock, then we’re prepared to join with him and our Democratic leaders to work together for the sake of easing transportation gridlock and improving the quality of life for San Franciscans and all Californians.”

Allan Zaremberg, president, California Chamber of Commerce
It is clear from recent floods, crowded freeways, crumbling schools and other problems throughout our state that California’s infrastructure needs a significant investment. It has been ignored for far too long, and the plan outlined by Governor Schwarzenegger tonight is essential to keeping California’s economy booming. His visionary leadership will help California and our economy prepare for the millions who move to our great state each decade.

The Governor also discussed tonight plans some may have to roll-back the overhaul of California’s workers’ compensation system. It is clear that the overhaul has worked, and employers who were suffering from skyrocketing workers’ comp costs just two years ago are now staying in California because their costs are under control. We applaud the Governor for his continued commitment to keeping California’s workers’ comp system fair for injured workers and employers.

Gray Davis
It was like night and day. In Year 1 he took this moderate approach, in Year 2, he took a detour to the right, got his head handed to him in the election, Year 3 he’s back on a moderate, bipartisan, visionary approach. I give him very high marks for his speech. I’m pleased on the emphasis on infrastructure. The only thing I would fault him for is for sort of pulling his punches on prescription drugs.

Dan Schnur, GOP political strategist
No governor ever wins or loses reelection based on his state of the state
address, but Schwarzenegger took a good first step in the right direction…

The casual swing voter who he needs to win back heard three things: number
one, I apologize; number two, let’s build roads and schools and other things
you like; and number three, I want to work with the Democrats. That’s what
voters need to hear.

There wasn’t much in the speech that a conservative Republican would hate.
Conservatives don’t hate prescription drug access, or lower college tuition.
But there wasn’t much in here to motivate them, either. Schwarzenegger
already is on his way to the political center, but his other challenge now
is coming up with something that will inspire the Republican base.”

Jason Kinney, partner California Strategies

Startlingly short on specifics, but a refreshing change from the usual mind-numbing rinse-and-repeat laundry list of policy minutiae.

Rhetorically, it lacked the infectious energy and hang-on-the-wall one-liners of signature Schwarzenegger speeches and relied a little too much on thin platitudes (I loved “Field of Dreams” too, but I don’t think “Build It” will be leading a cultural zeitgeist anytime soon), but was juiced with sweeping pronouncements and big-picture legacy items. I half-expected the Governor to announce he was turning our waterways into wine and paving our streets with gold by the year 2010.

By far, the most compelling and satisfying oratory was the heartfelt mea culpa.
As policy, it’s the Perata agenda dressed up in Republican clothing, so what’s not to like?Lacking greater detail, it’s hard to accurately judge the bond proposals. They’re like White Castle cheeseburgers: the price is right and looks good on the outside but I’m not sure I want to know what’s on the inside.

Treasurer Phil Angelides
It sounds like George W. Bush to me: spend spend spend, borrow borrow
borrow. There are some major problems. He hasn’t said how he would pay for it.

$70 billion for new bonds and a cap on borrowing? In their own analysis,
they bust the cap by 2007. The biggest problem is that the governor has no credibility. This guy has said he won’t raise taxes, but he has taxed our students trying to learn.

It’s like that old adage, fool me once.It sounds like Bushinomics to me.

Controller Steve Westly
We’re all happy to see the governor rushing back to the center.

It’s another new face for Arnold. We’re all waiting to see if this is real.

I stood with him two years ago when he said he was going to cut up the
credit cards. I think he has just applied for a bunch of new ones. The
governor is going to have to explain.

Assemblyman Ray Haynes
Since I’ve been in the legislature spending has doubled state spending has
doubled and we have not built more roads, we have not built new schools.

Do we want to bond ourselves to the max? If we took half of spending
increase of the last two years and spent it on infrastructure, in the next
20 years would have $20 billion in new roads, in new roads, in new schools.
Last year’s budget was $78 billion. This year’s projected budget we’ll see
Tuesday is $95 billion.

Assemblywoman Sally Lieber
I welcome the governor’s new found interest in the minimum wage. But there
was something missing: the i-word [indexing]. The year before last he vetoed
it [a new minimum wage] without indexing. We need to see if this is for

I was looking around and some of the Republicans in the Chamber had pretty
sickly looks on their faces.

Bob Balgenorth, President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
I was glad to hear the build, build, build. Now, for the first time, the
governor and the Assembly and the Senate all seem to be on the same page.
Maybe we’ll get around to actually building something.I don’t think it’s clear what he’s doing with organized labor. I know we handed him a tremendous defeat in the special election. He started out okay when he was elected, but he later turned against us. Now, we’re leary.

“What’s important is that every single person is talking about the need to
build, and they have not done that for a long, long time.”

Bob Mulholland, advisor, Phil Angelides for Governor
He sounded more like a supply sergeant than a governor. Not very impressive. I don’t think and historians will ever mention this speech. For a guy who had two months to prepare, he came across like he only had two hours. I just was surprised. And he is the first governor never to introduce his wife. Did you notice that?

Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco
I’m in a state about the State of the State!

As always, the governor talked a good show, he was well scripted and a little giddy in his embrace of the Democratic agenda. Words for him are easy, but follow-through has been his downfall.

What is new here, for the first time, is the governor’s pledge to work with the Legislature instead of ridiculing us. I am glad he got the people’s message and is now prepared to do his duty, which is to build consensus. It would help if he spent time here in Sacramento and stayed focused.

Doug Aadland, Chairman of Transportation California
While the scale of what the Governor is proposing in infrastructure
investment may seem ambitious, it is really the least that we can afford
to do to begin closing the gap created by years of disinvestment and
procrastination. The cost of continuing to neglect California’s
transportation system and other infrastructure needs is far greater than
what is being proposed.

The transportation community is also heartened that an integral part of
the infrastructure package will be a constitutional amendment to protect
Proposition 42 funds in the future. The voters have made it loud and
clear that they want sales taxes paid at the pump used for
transportation and not diverted to fill gaps in the General fund. It is
also vital that transportation receive full funding from Proposition 42
in the 2006-07 Budget.

Patrick Dorinson, former Schwarzenegger administration official
The only thing I found missing was any mention of pension reform. That’s
the elephant in the closet..We have all these contracts coming up this year
with the state bargaining units. This is a larger problem than just sitting
down with the Legislature. All these cities have their own pension-fund

Tom Sulliuvan, radio talk show host
Before the speech, I was wondering, ‘Will the real Arnold Schwarzenegger please stand up?’ But this was classic Schwarzenegger, with big ideas, positive thinking-that’s Schwarzenegger. I was pleasantly surprised. I was worried that he was going to try to pander to different political wings, and instead it was classic Schwarzenegger, with big ideas.

When he ran for office, he said he wanted recovery, reform and rebuilding. We got the recovery, and now he is trying to push reform and rebuilding.”

Jon Fleischman, editor, The Flash Report

I don’t mean to be too cute, but since I read his address from last year before coming up to Sacramento, I now am wondering if this is a movie plot, and the Governor will announce that this speech was given by an alien that had taken over his body… Seriously though, the governor was specific about massive borrowing and building but didn’t talk much about debt repayment. Oh yes, and there is that minimum wage hike… Grrr.

Rose Ann Demaro, California Nurses Association
What assurances will Californians have that these projects will not accrue hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to Arnold_s deep pocket donors? Given this governor_s history of handing out political favors to his campaign contributors, Californians have every reason to be extremely wary of who will get these lucrative contractsThe $250 million to $300 million squandered in the unnecessary special election and the Abramoff scandal are clear evidence that an overhaul is needed to protect our democracy and sharply cut the undue influence of corporate interests.

Gale Kaufman, consultant, Alliance for a Better California

It’s like he just discovered what infrastructure is. I don’t know what he’s learned from last year and what the purpose of this was. I don’t think he’s done anything but give a speech.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
“I have been briefed on the Governor’s proposed infrastructure investment plan and am very pleased to see that it sets up a 10-year investment program particularly in the areas of flood protection/water infrastructure and transportation — two of California’s major needs.
In the next 20 years, California could grow to nearly 50 million people with a water and transportation infrastructure sufficient for half the population. This is clearly untenable and this 10-year program is a major step in remedying the situation. I will do all I can to work with the Governor and the State Legislature to see that this infrastructure plan is carried out. And when a federal match is required, I will fight for the federal dollars involved.”

California GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim
“Every Californian deserves a financially responsible government committed to protecting public safety and providing top quality vital state services such as education and transportation. They deserve a government that will work to improve the state economy, create jobs for California’s workforce, and allow families across the state to keep more of their hard earned money by not raising taxes.

“A strong economy and good quality of life require a long term vision. Governor Schwarzenegger made it clear in his speech that without raising taxes this vision can become a reality. Now it is up to Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature to work with the Governor to come up with a sound fiscal plan that is in the best interests of this, and future generations of Californians.

California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres
“While the Schwarzenegger we saw tonight espoused Democratic ideals such as providing affordable prescription drugs for our seniors, fully funding education for our children and repairing our infrastructure, time will tell how genuine this governor is. We will see how long his walk on our side of the aisle lasts. After Schwarzenegger wasted immense amounts of time and money on his right wing agenda that failed, he is now trying to reinvent himself.

“We stand ready to work with him for the good of our state; however we are wary of his sudden changes of heart, especially given some of his most recent actions: he has indicated, after vetoing legislation to raise the minimum wage, that he now supports raising it. After twice vetoing legislation by Majority Leader Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) to allow prescription drug importation from Canada, Schwarzenegger now indicates that he supports it. And he just hired a right-wing campaign manager who works for Dick Cheney and George Bush, and who Newsweek magazine characterized as an ‘artillery shell.’

“We wait to see if the Governor is genuine–we hope that he is for the good of our state.

Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation
California’s unions want to work with the Governor and the Legislature to achieve great dreams for Californians. We don’t want more short-term, politically expedient solutions.

We must increase and index the minimum wage so that our lowest wage earners can regain and retain their purchasing power. Since Schwarzenegger was elected, the minimum wage has already lost 10% of its purchasing power.

The Governor’s proposal to rebuild California’s crumbling infrastructure – highways, roads, ports, hospitals, and schools – is a positive step to grow our economy and improve our quality of life. But, we must diversify and expand our tax base to avoid saddling our children and grandchildren with insurmountable debt.

We must re-examine our tax structure to sustain this down payment in education funding. A one-time increase is not enough. We must be able to maintain our higher per-pupil funding investment.

We also remember that the Administration’s one-year deadline to finalize proposed lunch break take-away regulations comes next week. After a jury awarded Wal-Mart employees $172 million in owed wages for denied lunch breaks, we hope the Governor will back away from this anti-worker proposal. Only then will we begin to know if today is a new day in California or if we are back to business as usual.

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