Sacramento pack somehow perceives well-run state government

Sacramento pack somehow perceives well-run state government

Happy Fourth, everyone!

In January 2008. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he backed state lawmakers’ push to revise strict term limits for a specific reason. In response to a question I asked him at an editorial board meeting, Arnold said he thought Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate President Don Perata deserved to keep their jobs because under their stewardship, they had kept the state in “a good kind of groove.”

Really? In what way? Both at the time and six years later, any “groove” is hard to discern.

Darrell-SteinbergNow we’re seeing another display of this from the Sacramento media-political establishment: the recent media boomlet promoting the idea that departing Senate President Darrell Steinberg has done such a bang-up job that he deserves another really big job after he is termed-out — as justice on the California Supreme Court.

Here’s what the Sac Bee’s Capitol Alert had to say about what Ventura County Star columnist Timm Herdt had to say:

Herdt makes the case that Gov. Jerry Brown should appoint Steinberg to fill one of two openings on the California Supreme Court. Herdt praised Steinberg as the “most productive legislative leader” since term limits were imposed, and argued for his broad expertise in state law and his skill as a consensus-builder.

Herdt wrote that Steinberg — who worked as an employee-rights lawyer and an administrative law judge before being elected to the Legislature — would be a “soberly creative” choice for Brown.

‘Productive’ in what sense?

Now I understand why folks might have been charmed by Núñez. He has a loose, funny, teasing manner, or at least he did in my several encounters with him. And I understand that many journos think well of Steinberg, who by most accounts is very smart and a very hard worker.

But just as back in 2008 I wondered what kind of groove Arnold was perceiving, with Herdt’s assessment of Steinberg, I wonder in what sense has the Senate leader been “productive.”

In the past dozen years, where are the big achievements that Steinberg has produced?

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and by far.

The great majority of counties have never emerged from the Great Recession.

California’s schools are clearly behind the nation’s other mega states when it comes to apples-to-apples comparisons of students by age and ethnicity.

The 2012 state pension reform measure is vanilla and doesn’t do remotely enough to help the local governments that are hardest hit.

The 2014 teachers pension bailout puts 90 percent of the burden on taxpayers and only 10 percent on teachers themselves. A key selling point of the 2012 state pension reform was that it would force employees to equally share in their pension costs. Never mind!

The state appears no closer to solving its intractable water problems.

This list could go on and on.

That’s all you got?

partyofoneSo what is behind the happy talk?

I think much of it has to do with the fact that Prop. 25 makes it easier to pass budgets and not have multi-month dramas summer after summer after summer.

And some of it also has to do with AB 32, the state’s landmark 2006 law forcing a shift to cleaner-but-costlier energy.

Journos never seem to remember that it was peddled with the claim that it would convince the rest of the world to copy California; that didn’t happen. Nor do they ever notice that in 2006, no one had the audacity to pretend it was a job-creation program, the present ongoing Lie No. 1 of public policy in the Golden State.

This rosy-scenario-itis isn’t a new problem, alas. Here’s an example from 2008.

The view from within a one-mile perimeter around the state Capitol sure is counter to the view in California’s other 163,000 square miles.

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