Democratic Assemblymember Pedro Nava accused a “mini-minority” of 14 Republican state senators of “holding all of California hostage” by blocking passage of a state budget, and in turn inflicting severe economic pain on the poorest California residents. Pedro spoke at a press conference held at the eastside branch of the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic, along with the director of the clinic, Dr. Cynthia Bowers, City College President John Romo, and Teachers Association President Lane Wheeler. Bowers was blistering in her remarks, describing the situation alternately as “a ridiculous game,” “unconscionable,” and, “just criminal.” Bowers predicted if the budget impasse-now in its sixth week-continues for another two-to-four weeks, the clinic would have to dip into its credit to maintain services.
Currently, the clinics handle 40,000 visits a year, 61 percent from people who could not go without some form of state assistance. “Try to explain to a five-year old girl that she can’t get her vaccinations for school because the Republicans don’t trust their governor to make the blue line cuts he promised,” Bowers said. She was referring to the great distrust expressed by many Republicans that the governor will make good on his promise to line-item veto-or “blue line”-$700 million out of the budget approved by the Democratic-dominated assembly.
Nava charged that because of the impasse, state payments of $1.1 billion were not made in the month of July-$227 million of which would go to hospitals, $327 million to city colleges, and $110 million to child support services.
Nava stated that two Republicans needed to defect for the Democrats and the governor to have the two-thirds majority needed to pass a budget. One Republican, Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, did join with Governor Schwarzenegger and the Democrats to support the budget, but he’s been excoriated by his own party as a traitor ever since. That leaves the budget one Republican vote shy of the majority needed, but few prognosticators believe that vote will be forthcoming. The Senate Republicans are hoping to leverage their votes to block Attorney General Jerry Brown from using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to equire private developers to disclose-and mitigate-the greenhouse gases their projects might generate. In addition, they’ve demanded that other cities be given a fighting chance to compete for the some of the $150 million earmarked for Los Angeles in stoplight synchronization funds. Nava dismissed these objections, stating, “They’re constantly changing the goal posts, constantly changing their objections.”
Republicans claim they offered a $10 billion temporary spending plan to forestall much of the fiscal pain decried by Nava, but that Democrats rejected it. Tom McClintock-the conservative Republican budget hawk that represents Santa Barbara in the State Senate-said he’d have to see $3 billion lopped off the state’s $140 billion budget before he could approve it. As far as Nava’s press conference, McClintock countered, “What is he doing on summer holiday when the Senate hasn’t adopted a state budget? Assemblymember Nava is on summer holiday. That speaks for itself.”