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California Legislature Gets Back To Business Today

California Legislature Gets Back To Business Today
Lawmakers in California are back to work... and a multi-billion-dollar budget should keep them busy. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

California lawmakers returned to work this week after spring break and a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit should keep them busy. We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. Hey Leo, the legislature gets back to business today. What can we expect them to do this election year?

LEO MCELROY: Very little in a very brief word. This is -- this is not a highly productive year normally. Election years are not the years in the legislature when things happen very much. This is a legislature that has failed to come to grips with the budget deficit already, during a special session when they were supposedly devoted to it, and in the upcoming time they still have on their calendar a one-month summer vacation right after the primary and they have an early recess. They break in September so they can all go home and campaign for the November elections. So it's going to be a short year, and legislature watchers will tell you that there isn't very much that usually happens in the election years compared to the off years when they actually can concentrate on doing things. It's a bad, bad prospect. The Stanford study on the pension funds is bad news for them, the news out of the federal government that California did really badly in the competition for Race to the Top funds for education, because of, partly because of teachers union failure to buy in to the program. Wildlife protection takes a beating because some guy crashes his truck into the hangar in southern California where two of the six wildlife planes are. I mean, problems, problems, problems, no solutions cropping up their head.

DWANE BROWN: Now, there is some agreement on a couple of concerns between Democrats and Republicans. Can you explain that?

MCELROY: Yes, yes, much publicized. To those who say that bipartisanship is dead, all they have to do is look at the television ads. There are television ads now running which assure you that Meg Whitman sounds just like Barack Obama, and television ads that tell you that Tom Campbell, senate candidate, sounds just like Barbara Boxer, the guy he's running to replace. These are ads aimed at Republicans to assure them why they should not vote for Meg Whitman in the governor's race and Tom Campbell in the senate race, but it's an interesting piece of bipartisanship nonetheless. These are the kinds of ads you will not see during the general election, that's for sure.

BROWN: Well, speaking of ads, we've also seens ads talking about the heavy rains, and how they may bolster our water supply. But, we're also told that the shortage is not over. Why is the message already being greeted with some cynicism in Sacramento?

MCELROY: I think it's the same message coming back time after time and we hear it two seasons a year. We hear it coming out of the rainy season, as we hear that no matter how heavy the rains were, we have not relieved our water worries, and we hear it going into the fire season, when we are always told either there's going to be a really bad fire season this year because it rained a lot and we have a lot of plant growth, or alternatively, it's going to be a really bad fire season this year because it didn't rain very much and everything is really dry. Regardless of which, we're always told the water woes are not over and the fire season's going to be bad, and people are getting tired of the message, so they're not particularly believing it even though the truth is we always have water woes and we always have a bad fire season.

BROWN: Nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.