The California legislature is required by the State's constitution to pass a budget by June 15. As I write this, California's state budget is 40 days past due. By the time this hits the news stands it will be 47. Standing in the way of the state Senate, reaching an agreement on the $103 billion general fund spending plan is a gang of 14 Republican state senators.
The budget has already been approved by the state Assembly and is backed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Democrats, who hold a majority in the legislature, still need 1 of the 14 Republicans to add their vote to pass the budget with the required two-thirds majority. Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, is the lone Republican state senator not holding the 2007/2008 budget hostage in an attempts to roll back the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) at the behest of climate change skeptics.
This Gang of 14 is demanding provisions be put in place that prohibit counties, cities, developers and oil refineries from being sued on climate change issues for the next three years. It should be noted Arnold Schwarzenegger's current term ends January 3, 2011. Exactly three years. Coincident? I think not.
These 14 senators all opposed the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the first enforceable program in the U.S. capping all greenhouse gas emissions from major industries. AB 32 requires that the state's greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels that by 2020, roughly a 25% reduction, and includes penalties for non-compliance.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown said those obstructing the passage of the budget, were in a "Neanderthal state," and are doing so to embarrass Governor Schwarzenegger. Brown went as far as to say, "This is the way they communicate with a governor who doesn't listen to them and that's an unconscionable abuse of their public trust."
Politics being what they are, Democrats in Sacramento are striking back. Senate President pro Tem Don Peralta said he would not allow any legislation to move until a budget is approved. Declaring from the state Capital's east lawn "If my Republican colleagues need a public reality check, here it is: I will not bargain on California's environment. There will be no negotiations on CEQA. End of sentence."
And as expected, one of the Republican senators targeting CEQA, and holding the State budget hostage, is State Sen. Mark Wyland of the 38th District. Reviewing Mr. Wyland's Senate website I was surprised to see no mention, or defense, of his participation in the gang of fourteen's anti-environmental thuggery, or his opposition to clean air legislation.
I wonder if the voters of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Fairbanks Ranch, Rancho Sante Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, San Marcos, Bonsall and Vista know that Representative Wyland is complicit in holding up budgeted funds for schools, parks, and infrastructure. As well as preventing California from making more than $1 billion in health care reimbursement payments to hospitals and other health care providers.
California, under the leadership of Governor Schwarzenegger, is setting the standard for environmental governance. Schwarzenegger is a Republican. CEQA was put in place when Ronald Reagan was Governor. Ronald Reagan was a Republican. Why is then is Mark Wyland, a Republican, standing in the way of a Governor approved budget, and targeting Republican approved legislation? Who does he really represent?
It's certainly not the people of the 38th district.
Dog days of summer? Indeed.