Schwarzenegger Threatens Government Shutdown

The Governor’s shock-doctrine approach to the current budget crisis became very apparent this week, as he engineered rejections of bipartisan stop-gap measures and solutions that would cover $21.5 billion of a $24 billion dollar deficit.  He clearly would rather essentially shut down the state government than participate in the normal political process of compromise and negotiation.  This is his chance to be a dictator, and he is banking on the desire of Democrats not to watch the lights go out in Sacramento to push through his agenda.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, seeking to conquer what could be the last budget crisis of his tenure, is engaged in a high-stakes negotiating strategy with lawmakers that could force him to preside over a meltdown of state government.

As legislators have scrambled to stop the state from postponing payment of its bills and issuing IOUs starting next week, the governor has vowed to veto any measure that fails to close the state’s entire $24-billion deficit […]

The governor readily admits that he sees the crisis as a chance to make big changes to government — to “reform the system,” he said Friday — with proposals he has struggled to advance in the past.

Among them: reorganizing state bureaucracy, eliminating patronage boards and curbing fraud in social services that Democrats have traditionally protected. The governor also would like to move past the budget crisis to reach a deal on California’s water problems that has so far eluded him.

By agreeing to a partial budget solution such as one the Assembly approved Thursday, the governor would lose leverage to accomplish many of those things. Without the pressure of imminent insolvency, Democrats might be less likely to agree to his demands.

This is a dangerous strategy – not for Schwarzenegger himself, but for the hundreds of thousands of Californians who depend on a functioning state government every day.  Contrary to popular belief, the recipients of these IOUs would not be debtholders or vendors, but the most vulnerable people in society – families on welfare, the elderly, the blind, the disabled, and poor college students with state aid grants.  These are the pawns in the game Arnold has been playing.

The Governor has brought back to the table long-sought goals that he wishes to implement over the protests of a majority of the legislature.  Some of them are described in his weekly radio address.  The LA Times has a good synopsis here:

Back on the governor’s demand list is a plan to cut the pensions received by state workers, which unions have stymied before but which he thinks may gain traction with a cash-strapped public. Schwarzenegger also views this as an ideal time to once again target growth and fraud in the state’s multibillion-dollar in-home healthcare program, which employs 300,000 unionized workers.

His agenda includes anti-fraud efforts and tougher enrollment requirements for the state’s food stamp programs, efforts that advocates for the poor say are designed to discourage people from participating. In his radio address, he said the state and counties could get by with a “fraction” of the 27,000 workers now handling eligibility for Medi-Cal and food stamps by using Web-based enrollment.

Schwarzenegger has revived plans to allow local school districts to contract out for services like school bus transportation and lawn maintenance, a proposal favored by the GOP but despised by school employee unions.

Arnold has basically taken the lesson of the GOP, holding the budget hostage for pet projects like privatization and purging state services rolls of the dependent (I’m sure a lot of the desperately poor have Web access to fill out their forms).

One wonders if this will finally color the local coverage of the Governor, which throughout his tenure has been fawning, even in the face of near-historic unpopularity.  Some reporters seem to be coming around.

10 thoughts on “Schwarzenegger Threatens Government Shutdown”

  1. That much ought to be crystal clear by now. Let’s hope the media will start taking notice, and that Democrats will press the advantage.

  2. How exactly are low-income people supposed to enroll in Medi-Cal and food stamps online when those people are the least likely to have Internet access or even computers?  

  3.   The Democratic legislative leaders should announce that if Schwartz defaults the state they will support the recall (petitions have already been qualified).  

  4. I consider what the Gov/Repugs are doing is criminal reckless disregard of their sworn oath to provide for the well-being of the citizens of California and represents dereliction of duty. Can we bring charges of Malfeasance, Preference Votes?  Their actions are endangering our most vulnerable citizens – the old, the ill, the children and the poor while they are clearly protecting the interest of the mega-corporations. There must be legal recourse.  Perhaps recall but what else can we do legally?



    SEC. 18.  (a) The Assembly has the sole power of impeachment.

    Impeachments shall be tried by the Senate.  A person may not be

    convicted unless, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two thirds

    of the membership of the Senate concurs.

      (b) State officers elected on a statewide basis, members of the

    State Board of Equalization, and judges of state courts are subject

    to impeachment for misconduct in office.  Judgment may extend only to

    removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under

    the State, but the person convicted or acquitted remains subject to

    criminal punishment according to law.



    SEC. 22.  It is the right of the people to hold their legislators

    accountable.  To assist the people in exercising this right, at the

    convening of each regular session of the Legislature, the President

    pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the

    minority leader of each house shall report to their house the goals

    and objectives of that house during that session and, at the close of

    each regular session, the progress made toward meeting those goals

    and objectives.

  5. And not Oklahoma.  My bad.

    And here’s how Nebraska does impeachment:

    III-17 Impeachment; procedure.  The Legislature shall have the sole power of impeachment, but a majority of the members elected must concur therein. Proceedings may be initiated in either a regular session or a special session of the Legislature. Upon the adoption of a resolution of impeachment, which resolution shall give reasonable notice of the acts or omissions alleged to constitute impeachable offenses but need not conform to any particular style, a notice of an impeachment of any officer, other than a Judge of the Supreme Court, shall be forthwith served upon the Chief Justice, by the Clerk of the Legislature, who shall thereupon call a session of the Supreme Court to meet at the Capitol in an expeditious fashion after such notice to try the impeachment. A notice of an impeachment of the Chief Justice or any Judge of the Supreme Court shall be served by the Clerk of the Legislature, upon the clerk of the judicial district within which the Capitol is located, and he or she thereupon shall choose, at random, seven Judges of the District Court in the State to meet within thirty days at the Capitol, to sit as a Court to try such impeachment, which Court shall organize by electing one of its number to preside. The case against the impeached civil officer shall be brought in the name of the Legislature and shall be managed by two senators, appointed by the Legislature, who may make technical or procedural amendments to the articles of impeachment as they deem necessary. The trial shall be conducted in the manner of a civil proceeding and the impeached civil officer shall not be allowed to invoke a privilege against self-incrimination, except as otherwise applicable in a general civil case. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the Court of impeachment that clear and convincing evidence exists indicating that such person is guilty of one or more impeachable offenses, but judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, profit, or trust, in this State, but the party impeached, whether convicted or acquitted, shall nevertheless be liable to prosecution and punishment according to law. No officer shall exercise his or her official duties after he or she shall have been impeached and notified thereof, until he or she shall have been acquitted.

    The Supreme Court of NE does the trial if I’m reading this right.

Comments are closed.