The Spineless Republicans in the State Senate and Assembly

The Los Angeles Times carried a Sunday profile on the three Johns and their influence over the minority party in the California state legislature.  The three Johns being John Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, John Kobylt of KFI Radio’s “John and Ken Program,” and John Fleischman of the Flash Report.  Apparently, what constituents have to say is less important to Republican legislators than incurring the wrath of the Three Johns, which makes you wonder if Republican legislators have any spines at all?

From the LA Times piece:  “State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, said some of his GOP colleagues ‘crouch in fear and hide under their desk’ lest they offend these enforcers of anti-tax orthodoxy.

The activists offer no alternative budget plan and say no policy concessions on Republican priorities — such as a state spending cap or a pension overhaul — are worth ceding ground on taxes. If they succeed in blocking the public vote on taxes that Brown’s budget blueprint includes, the governor promises a spending plan containing deep service cuts that he says would have disastrous consequences for the state.

Their response has been, in essence: “Bring it on.”

At least Blakesee is honest about his lack of courage.

Fleischman continues to flount his status as a party insider.

From the Times story again: “Fleischman, who is also a paid political strategist and regional vice chairman of the California Republican Party, revels in his inside access. He notes that 37 of the 42 sitting GOP legislators have written for his site. And just about all of them feed him a steady diet of gossip on the sly.

“There’s really nothing that takes place inside a Republican Senate or Assembly caucus meeting that I don’t know about,” Fleischman said.

Too bad Fleischman can’t remember a damn thing from his “insider status” as a spokesman for disgraced and convicted ex-sheriff Mike Carona, now doing time in a federal prison and still collecting $200K annually in public pensions.  When is someone in the mainstream media going to call this joker on his disservice to taxpayers?  If Fleischman was indeed the insider he proclaims himself to be, did he place his obilgation to his Party over that of the taxpayers and voters of Orange County? Did he turned his head and ignore what was going on at the Sheriff’s office?  If he was aware of Carona’s unlawful activities, isn’t it a crime not to report it? 

Now, the Flash Report and the California Republican Assembly has drafted a resolution calling for the censure of any elected Republican who votes to place Governor Brown’s budget proposal before the voters. 

From the Flash Report’s story on this:

Resolved, that the California Republican Party censures these traitorous Republicans-in-Name
           -Only, ask for their resignation from their positions within the California Republican
           Party, pledges to endorse and support efforts to recall them from office, and directs the
           California Republican Party staff, agents and officers to refuse to provide them with
           funding or assistance in future elections.

You have to admire Fleischman’s attitude.  Most people consider their status as American citizens or California residents first. To Fleischman, it’s Party first and foremost.  Oh, will the Party be picking up the tab for any recall election John?  Or will you stick party disloyalty on the backs of taxpayers for the cost of any recall election?

In the weeks after Gov. Brown’s state of the state address, Republicans still have failed to put forth any sort of plan to resolve the state’s budget crisis other than to oppose any sort of new taxes. 

The rub comes in the LA Times story from former Assemblyman Anthony Adams.  “But Anthony Adams, a former Republican Assemblyman from Hesperia, has felt the Three Johns’ sting. “There doesn’t appear to be any legitimate desire for good government” in their activities, he said.

Good government and Fleischman?  Ha!  The fact is Fleischman and Republican legislators are afraid of placing the budget proposal on the ballot.

From an editorial in today’s LA Times:

But as the Legislative Analyst’s Office has noted, closing the entire budget gap without tax increases would make it all but impossible to avoid multibillion-dollar reductions in public education and additional deep cuts to public safety and transportation.

Not extending the tax increases would automatically reduce Proposition 98 funding for schools by $2 billion. That’s just for starters. The no-tax-increases alternative prepared by Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor called for more than $4 billion in cuts to K-12 education, which would force schools to lay off teachers, jam more students into classrooms and, possibly, shorten the school year by two weeks.

Taylor’s alternative also suggests cutting an additional $1 billion from the UC and CSU systems and $1.1 billion more from safety-net programs, halting bond sales and many state construction projects, cutting road and mass-transit projects by $400 million, slashing taxpayer support for fighting wildfires, eliminating half a billion dollars’ worth of public safety grant programs, cutting parole supervision periods in half and idling state workers an additional two days a month through furloughs.

Advocates of smaller government don’t have to go that far to declare victory. The total spending level that Brown proposed and that Democrats have embraced, even with the extension of the expiring tax breaks, is 12% lower than it was in fiscal 2007-08. If you factor in inflation and population growth, the reduction is even greater.

George Skelton’s column shows the cuts the Democrats have already voted for without a single Republican vote.  From the column:  “Democrats voted to:

• Reduce monthly SSI/SAP grants for seniors and the disabled to the federal minimum: $830, down from $845. That includes any Social Security they might be eligible for. Savings: $192 million. Two years ago, the grant was $907.

• Cut Cal WORKS (welfare) grants by 8%, to $638 from $694 for a family of three in a high-cost county. Savings: $300 million. In all, $1.1 billion is being slashed from Cal WORKS, including reducing the adult time limit for benefits from five years to four.

• Reduce Medi-Cal funding by $1.6 billion. This includes a 10% rate reduction for providers, already among the lowest-paid in the nation. Co-pays are to be required of patients, ranging from $5 for a doctor visit to $50 for emergency room care and $100 per day at a hospital (maximum $200). Also, there’ll be no more money for over-the-counter cold medicine or for nutritional supplements unless the recipient is tube-fed.

• Eliminate child care for most 11- and 12-year-old children of working welfare moms. Savings: $39 million.

There’s a very long list. And you don’t have to be a bleeding heart to cringe. Plenty of other cuts will affect the middle class, such as:

• Hits of $500 million to the University of California, $575 million to Cal State University and $400 million to community colleges. These most likely will lead to more student fee hikes.

• Docking state parks $11 million. Several will be closed.

• Pulling state support from county fairs, saving $30 million. That may finish off some smaller ones.

• Eliminating state subsidies for the Williamson Act, which provides property tax incentives to keep land in agriculture and other open space. Savings: $20 million.

• Cutting many state workers’ take-home pay by 10%, saving $308 million. Last year, other workers agreed to similar pay trims through collective bargaining, saving $72 million.

Of course, greedy state employees and their unions — not the global recession — are mostly to blame for the budget deficit, if you listen to the demagogues in denial.

Actually, you could fire every state worker paid out of the general fund — except for university employees, who aren’t under the governor’s control — and you’d save only around $9 billion.

But those state pensions are the budget killers, right? Wrong.

Right, they’re too generous and should be scaled back. That’s already happening for new hires and probably also will be for current employees. But wrong that pensions are eating up the state budget.

The general fund is paying a total of $3.5 billion into the state employee (CalPERS) and teachers (CalSTRS) retirement funds. It’s pumping $1.4 billion into state retiree healthcare.

Scrub it all — the general fund payroll and retiree contributions — and there would still be a $12-billion-plus deficit.

Republicans haven’t supported the Democrats’ slashed budget. Nor have they offered any meaningful alternative, let alone suggested deeper gouges. Spending’s running wild? Not even Republican lawmakers seem to believe that.”

  1 comment for “The Spineless Republicans in the State Senate and Assembly

  1. RHackett
    March 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I read that article as well.

    It’s nice to know GOP legislators abdicate their policy authority to four people who may or may not be the actual constituents.

    I’m betting the influence of the Johns (no pun intended) and Ken is diminished when redistricting and open primaries take effect.

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