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Jerry Brown’s Revised Budget Overshadowed By Former Governor’s Infidelity

Audio

Aired 5/20/11

Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal on Monday, but that story was overshadowed by the news that former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a child with a household staffer. We discuss the key elements of the governor's budget proposal. Plus, we'll talk about the legacy of Schwarzenegger.

Governor Jerry Brown.

Above: Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal on Monday, but that story was overshadowed by the news that former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a child with a household staffer. We discuss the key elements of the governor's budget proposal. Plus, we'll talk about the legacy of Schwarzenegger.

Guests

Michael Smolens, government editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune

Alisa Joyce Barba, assignment editor for the KPBS Fronteras Desk

John Warren, editor and publisher of San Diego Voice & Viewpoint.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

TOM FUDGE: This week good news and bad news for Gov. Jerry Brown and his efforts to forge a government budget deal. The good news was $6 billion in revenues that an improving economy but in his pocket. The bad news was the extra $6 billion, which will make it more of a challenge to convince Republicans to put his proposed tax extensions in front of the voters of California. Brown has come into office in amidst the zeal of the based on borrowing and budget gimmicks and this week he said that a lot of cuts are needed to breach the wall of debt that the state now confronts. Meanwhile Brown's predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger became another politician enmeshed in scandal. We will talk about that and what it means for his legacy a little bit later. But Michael, let's start with the budget. How has the governor's revised budget changed? I mean how is this one different from his first proposal?

MICHAEL SMOLENS: You had it when you said the good news and the bad news getting $6 billion in expected revenue is music to any governor's ear but the mantra of a lot of analists say we don't want to waste a good crisis. That is, sometimes people think anything so bad to really make the big reforms but no money is seeping back into the economy is rebounding about going out on a limb here but I just don't think we are going to see an election in Texas this year not just Republicans but of members of the public they see things improving times are going to be tough but do we really need to vote on taxes this year. In an odd way the good news is you pointed out steals the momentum from the governor. I think unfortunately for him here probably going to muddle through as we have in past years when there has been a huge deficits in their able to somehow finessing soon we will probably end up with some of the gimmicks that he's on he says he's not going to do. Having said that, it's not so rosy. Let's not forget that already the legislature with the governor's agreement have cut nearly $10 billion in programs. This is a huge pain to schools and social services are going to feel dramatically. If they don't find a better way to close this remaining 9+ billion dollar gap without taxes or some other way other than straight cuts we are going to see some real pain.

TOM FUDGE: In the revised budget it sounds like the winner was K-12, that most of the new revenue is to go to schools, am I right?

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: Yes and the governor even before the revenue came in he did quite a dramatic thing where he tried to protect schools to a great degree. They were not getting cost-of-living increases and certain things like these pink slips going out. I think we will see the pink slips dissipate quite a bit. We already have and yes I think about 3 billion of the money would go that seems to be universal agreement that is the way to go Republicans are saying that is where you need to put the money. Ironically though that deprives the governor of one of his main arguments to raise taxes. He knows that social services and welfare are not sellers but big cuts to schools do scare people. That is their gift and it doesn't look to be happening is dramatically so did the wind is coming out of the sails of the momentum of the tax push.

TOM FUDGE: I get so confused about the special election if it ever happens about extending taxes and California we were talking about in June. I'm assuming that's off the table, that's gone, that's off the table if there is a special election when would it be?

MICHAEL SMOLENS: He needs Republican support, he's talking about later in the fall. Democrats and some analysts are saying at this stage you have to find out a way for the budget to have some consistency so if you're going to do an election do it at the end of the fiscal year next year, June next year and the governor doesn't want to do that. What's really interesting if not ironic is that in the new budget plan he does what the election is asking the Legislature actually pass the taxes in the interim interim for the year and basically have the voters rather fight later that's actually asking Republicans to vote for a tax increase not simply to put on the ballot printed about where he gets the benefit of difficult Republicans simply to put on the ballot will be difficult for a tax increase. I don't know.

TOM FUDGE: And he needs two thirds of the house before I go to the editors and pointedly let me ask about this wall of debt that has entered the lexicon I think this week that is what Gov. Brown is calling it and get something along lines of $37 million in debt. What is he telling us about?

MICHAEL SMOLENS: Whether continuing borrowing from bonds and other measures of the state has some sort of the legitimately of public finance for things that we need road construction in (inaudible) basically to keep the budget afloat. To service that debt is an increasingly greater portion of the general fund spending unanswered squeezing other programs. We had a story I think last week that shows how it's gone beyond the 6% rule of thumb that financial people who know what they are talking about say that you are going to service our debt service should not go beyond 6% of the general fund. So that's what he's doing but to be honest with you the wall of that argument is new and why isn't it because he can't argue that the schools will be decimated anymore because all of the money's going there so I think he's trying to find a theme to convince voters that they still need to raise taxes.

TOM FUDGE: Let's go down the line and hear from John Warren. What you think about the events of this week?

JOHN WARREN: First of all he needs four Republicans to do anything in terms of getting the votes on the ballot for it. Somewhere he's not going to get it. They will stick with what they are doing and they are not going to budge and he's going to keep trying, number one. Number two, he knows he's going to be in office more than 12 months so he wants to use another portion of the money for this wall of debt $34.2 billion in that we have. And the third and most important observation is that in wanting to use that money he's going to lose, as Michael said, some of the public support that he needs because we still have the university system facing an additional $500 million in cuts which is supposed to represent just devastation. So we are not even talking about eliminating mental health and alcohol programs, social services and all the cuts that are affected that people think they cannot afford to lose. So I think he's going to have to show some more detailed concern for some other real pressing issues.

TOM FUDGE: Listeners, if you could give us a call to talk about this subject or the scandal involving Arnold Schwarzenegger we are going to talk about that too, call us at 888-895-5727. 888-895-KPBS. Alisa?

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: Let's just jump to the baby scandal, should we?

TOM FUDGE: We'll get to it.

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: But what I wanted to make is we may be returning funds to K-12 but I look at the college system, the state college system university system and I do think it is a cliché but I think that we are sabotaging our future as we continue to cut funds to those systems and I think that we will feel that. Every discussion we had about the budget on the show for the last 10 years has talked about when is it going to start hurting, when does it hurt enough that we are willing to pay more taxes or get everybody out of office or do something and as you said with a little bit of a $6 billion injection of (inaudible) we are not ready yet.

TOM FUDGE: Michael what is the latest on the governor's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies? Is that still on the table?

MICHAEL SMOLENS: It's on the table. What he has taken off the table the taking away of enterprise zones, he has revamped that. The redevelopment issue is still out there whether that turns into a negotiating bargaining chip I don't know whether there is support not in the Legislature to do that but he didn't delete it from the budget.

TOM FUDGE: And Michael Smolens is government editor for the San Diego Union Tribune. John Warren is editor and publisher of San Diego Voice and Viewpoint and Joyce Barba is assignment editor for the KPBS Fronteras desk. I'm Tom fudge and this is the Editors Roundtable. If you would like to join us with a call or question please call us at 888-895-5727. That is 888-895-KPBS. Well, let's get to the Schwarzenegger story. This week we got the news that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child with one of his former household staffers. And unlike legacy (inaudible) to say this sort of put the budget on the back page.

MICHAEL SMOLENS: We all like a scandal I guess. But yes, we talked about what does this mean to his legacy. It is pretty self evident but his legacy in a larger sense you know it is easier to pile on right now and perhaps we should because in a broader sense there is is he left under the cover of darkness by cutting the symptoms of the son of a political ally who was convicted in the murder with others. Without discussing what the prosecutor of the family of the victim. He left the state with a huge debt maybe not of his doing but that's what got him into office. He was going to change that. Those are the three huge things he tried to find what is his positive legacy of all of this and it's tough to find one. He kind of prided himself as the green governor and he deserves credit for that but let's also keep in mind that the landmark legislation of the anti-global warming legislation a B52 was not his bill, that was something in the works by then assemblywoman Fran (Pavlik). His people did help navigate through them Legislature and he deserves credit when you take a step back as Legislature has legacy obviously will be tainted by how he left. One final thought that remember people didn't think he was going to run and why? Because Maria did not want him to run. So he went against her wishes there, so he is a charming man but certainly there are some character issues that he is facing and have raised throughout his life.

TOM FUDGE: When I look at this I can't help comparing them to another charming man, Bill Clinton and we know what happened with him but one has a feeling in the years past we've forgotten, we haven't forgotten about Monica Lewinsky but we put that to the side and we've come to the conclusion well he was a pretty good president, but with Schwarzenegger here is a guy who came into office saying he was going to tear up their credit cards and what did he do as soon as he got into office? He reduce the vehicle license fee which lost the state I don't know how many billions of dollars in revenues. He immediately borrowed $15 billion and can we say that he bears a lot of responsibility for putting us on this borrowing and spending track that California has been on?

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: Maybe not putting us on the track but certainly continuing.

TOM FUDGE: What about you, John Warren?

JOHN WARREN: I want to make a couple observations that this whole discussion is hypocritical. He was governor for eight years, the child is 10 or 13. Most of us have evolved from whatever sins we have in some ways we've lived long and so everybody's just going to hop on this and he's not the first one he won't be the last one it doesn't matter today what Bill Clinton did with Monica, the issue is what did they do in terms of the people. The moral part he has to handle with his wife and family and God and that is where the discussion should be. We need to thinking about the legacy. Yes he wanted to make changes but he learned any important lesson. The man does not always make the office and many times the office shapes the man. So having learned that lesson he made the best of what he had. People kept him there as long as he could be. Now we go forward at this point that is the issue. Arnold and Maria with his $300 million that he has I'm sure they can work out something and her hundred million. You know and the kids are going to get therapy and they will adjust and still grow up to be adults. So I think the conversation should move forward.

MICHAEL SMOLENS: John I disagree, but that's what we're talking about not just the job he found out about the job but the legacy that goes into the discussion but that's not really what we were talking about---

JOHN WARREN: I have to bring them in because their efforts to affect conversation to that part like the personal life is going to be greater than the policy discussion and we can only deal with that if we really balance it---

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: I couldn't agree more with John. I really do think we knew when he came into office that this is a man who has his peccadilloes and there were sexual harassment charges and you know when there was no question when he came into office that he was a flawed man as all of us are, or women. So I don't think it is surprising that that continues we are necessarily going to remember or focus on. I think we will focus on is his legacy in office and as you said I think he came in with his idea that he was the Terminator, he was the Governator, somehow the force of his personality was going to change the ship of state and in fact it couldn't and it didn't.

MICHAEL SMOLENS: If we could get back, I agree with a lot of what he said to get around what he said about the office shapes and dynamics of the government in California that make this what it is is not an individual that can come out we are cyclical in the boom bust in surplus revenue system but some people thought that he had the opportunity, we were in crisis when he came to office that was the time that he could have tried to do really dramatic things and he didn't he get the same kind of stuff and it was admirable to the approach that he wanted to do. Similarly I think it's admirable that Gov. Brown wants to set prices to really change things, to no fault of their own perhaps that the economy changes the dynamic has changed in the pressure have changed so that's why we are kind of heading back into the same kind of nibbling around the edges just to move the ball forward a little bit.

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: Remember when he came into office, and correct me because you probably have a better memory of this, but he tried to push the fairly revolutionary bond issue forward within the first 6, 7, 8 months of office where he tried to get the vote people of California, and he said we are going to change the system and California said no and that's the point he had to get on the ship of state---

JOHN WARREN: His election and the recall you were getting the feeling that he had momentum to do anything but he found out that running the state wasn't like running a movie and everybody wasn't following the script.

TOM FUDGE: One thing I did at one time admire in Schwarzenegger was the fact that he was to play down the middle. He was the candidate who could work both parties. At the end that Democrats didn't like him, the Republicans didn't like him he didn't have any base of support so what who doesn't is that teach us?

ALISA JOYCE BARBA: Obama should look.

JOHN WARREN: With Schwarzenegger you don't go in there calling them girlie men because you are a former bodybuilder. People took that stuff seriously predicting some. He wasn't a lawyer or a legislator, he was an actor and bodybuilder in that didn't do it.

MICHAEL SMOLENS: And a very successful businessman---

JOHN WARREN: Yes he was.

TOM FUDGE: Ronald Reagan was an actor and a very successful politician but I don't think we can say the same of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

JOHN WARREN: No.

TOM FUDGE: Maybe we leave it at that. It's about time for a break. I'm looking at the clock so anyway listeners if you want to give us a call on this subject and we will take a call or two if you want after the break, but when we return the editors Roundtable will continue and we will start talking about the drug war. And it's effect on Mexico and the United States so stay tuned. I'm Tom fudge, you are listening to the editors Roundtable on KP BS. My guess is around one table or a Lisa Joyce Barba site manager for the KP BS Fronteras desk, John Warren, editor and publisher of San Diego voice and viewpoint and Michael Smolen is government editor for the San Diego Union Tribune. Listeners if you would like to give us a call to talk about any of the subjects we are talking about doing the show please call us at 8888958955727. That is 888-895-KPBS and we do have a call about the state budget. Let's hear from Fran in La Jolla. Go ahead, you are on the show.

NEW SPEAKER: I thank you for having me. I was a little concerned about your rosy picture of the May revise regarding K-12 funding. Yes it is better but it still translates to roughly $75 million cut to San Diego unified and we've already got over 370 million in (inaudible) dependent on tax extensions, not tax increases. I think it is a little deceiving to tell the public that their taxes will be going up when in fact we are already paying the sales tax as well as the vehicle fees and if you put into a bigger picture Californians now we are spending about 8000 per pupil versus if you take the top 10 states in the country they are giving 14 grand per pupil. It is ridiculous that we've gone from number one down to the bottom 10 of everybody in this country and because of this parents are actually leading a statewide campaign to educate our state and we are going to have a San Diego rally in Balboa Park on Park Boulevard and president's way this coming Tuesday at 4:30 PM to show legislators and to wake up the state, wake-up California, all the parents of the devastating cuts to education have caused already. People can sign on to educateourstate.org to consider facts for themselves and hopefully we can get more people out there because while we are happy about the May revise we are still so far from being okay in education and supporting the children and the future of the state.

TOM FUDGE: Okay, well, Fran thank you very much for calling. All very good points. Who would like to respond?

MICHAEL SMOLENS: She makes several good points, not sure about the per pupil spending, but you know I was not trying to portray a rosy portrait but politically that will have a factor when people talk about education starting with the new money there is no question.

TOM FUDGE: All right and thank you very much for your call, Fran.

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | May 20, 2011 at 12:52 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Of course Gov Brown's revised budget is overshadowed by ex-Gov Schwarzeneggar's affair. The press get better ratings that way.

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