Governor’s Budget is On the Right Track

Despite what the special interests are saying even the Liberal media agrees that the Governor’s budget is on the right track.

“Put funds into solving traffic mess”Daily Breeze.com

“Not enough? Governor’s budget has more money for schools than ever, so why are his critics complaining?”Los Angeles Daily News Editorial

“Teachers’ Pets”Los Angeles Times Editorial

(Full Articles Below)

Daily Breeze.com

Put funds into solving traffic mess

By Thomas V. McKernan

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a bold step by declaring he will fully restore $1.3 billion in transportation funding in the 2005-06 budget. Polls and surveys show that Californians regard an efficient, effective and modern transportation network as a top priority and that’s how it must be seen in Sacramento.

Legislators should view our mobility as a problem facing all Californians that requires nonpartisan solutions. Pushing transportation to the back burner for years has resulted in unparalleled congestion, affecting both our quality of life and our economy.

Unfortunately, the job of funding transportation is not done. The restoration of funds, while significant and a commendable step in the right direction, is a fraction of what California requires just to play catch-up in addressing the state’s pressing transportation needs. They include relieving congestion, repairing roads and freeways and streamlining our project planning and building process. The state is more than $12 billion a year behind in addressing those problems, and the dismal state of our transportation network affects all of us. Here are steps that need to be taken to close the gap:

*Proposition 42.Three years ago, nearly 70 percent of voters passed this ballot measure, which was designed to ensure that gasoline sales tax money would go for transportation. But since that time, nearly all of the money has been diverted for other uses. Schwarzenegger wants to change that and restore $1.3 billion in Proposition 42 funds for transportation for the 2005-06 budget year. What about the years after that? The Automobile Club of Southern California is supporting the governor’s plan to ensure that Proposition 42 is amended to prevent any further “take-aways.”

*Gasoline excise taxes. The governor and legislators must ensure that the backbone of California’s highway funding — the gasoline tax — is no longer “borrowed” for other uses.

*Federal government. Our representatives in Congress must act now to assure that California gets its fair share of transportation funding, including money to modernize ports so they can effectively handle both shipping and trucking activities and get goods to consumers efficiently.

In short, California’s transportation needs to go beyond a one-year restoration of Proposition 42 funding, and legislators should not lose sight of that.

A recent Texas Transportation Institute study says motorists in Los Angeles spend 93 hours sitting in traffic each year — the equivalent of nearly four days lost to productive activity. That’s not only inconvenient and personally costly, but it drives up the price of getting products to and from the marketplace. One-third of Los Angeles County residents said in a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California that they intend to move out of the county. The reason? Traffic.

Last fall, business executives told the governor that Los Angeles traffic is too congested for efficient shipping to and from Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors and they are looking for alternatives. With 550,000 jobs dependent on these ports, such a change could be an economic catastrophe.

No one is immune to California’s increasing gridlock. It takes more time to do the simplest things in life, like getting children to school or arriving for medical appointments on time. A 10-mile trip can take 45 minutes or more.

California spends $161 per driver per year on road improvements, the second lowest in all 50 states. Motorists spend an average of $500 per person on needless vehicle repairs because of bad pavement and potholes. California has the second worst road conditions in the nation.

The Auto Club is urging Southern Californians to write to their legislators as this year’s budget debate begins and urge them to use all of Proposition 42 taxes and other transportation funds for transportation and make our critical transportation needs a priority.

It took years to get California into a traffic jam, and it will take years to get traffic flowing again. We need to get going.

Thomas V. McKernan is president and chief executive officer of the Automobile Club of Southern California

Los Angeles Daily News Editorial

Not enough?
Governor’s budget has more money for schools than ever, so why are his critics complaining?

Thursday, May 19, 2005 – The biggest slice of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2005-06 state budget will go to public schools, representing 42 percent of the general fund spending plan.

And although that’s a slightly higher percentage than in the past two budgets, and more than Proposition 98 mandates, Democrats are still complaining that it’s not enough.

The real issue is not education funding, it’s partisan politics. And even had Schwarzenegger’s spending plan allocated 75 percent to education, his critics would find a way to complain.

The proposed spending plan may not give everyone as much as they want, but it’s financially sound and does not raise taxes. The argument raised by Democratic legislators masks their real desire: Not just more education money, but higher taxation.

Los Angeles Times Editorial

Teachers’ Pets

May 19, 2005

What’s a special interest? It’s a lot like pornography, in that the definition depends almost entirely on one’s point of view.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger views special interests as groups, especially unions, that support Democrats. Democrats, meanwhile, are intent on pushing down the governor’s poll numbers by bashing his allegiances. They also argue their supporters have purer motives for the public good. Let’s examine that argument through the lens of a three-year battle over charter schools.

Last month, the state Senate Education Committee considered a bill that would have allowed public and private universities and colleges to authorize charter schools. The bill, by Sen. Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno), had acquired two Democratic supporters in the committee. But Chairman Jack Scott (D-Altadena) scheduled a vote when those two lawmakers couldn’t be present, which killed it. Supporters squarely blame the influence of the California Teachers Assn.

The CTA is an umbrella for most of the state’s teachers union locals. With its close ties (and dependable campaign contributions) to majority Democrats, it has a near veto over legislation that appears to threaten the interests of unionized teachers.

Democratic legislative analysts said they worried that the Poochigian bill would have effectively allowed private universities to establish mini school districts with public money. For instance: Stanford, with its respected school of education, could sponsor three or four charter schools in the lowest-performing areas of East Palo Alto or Oakland, where half of minority students drop out of high school. Taxpayers would undoubtedly fail to see the harm in this.

The high-minded objections about private schools spending public money are ultimately cover for union job security. Most teachers in charter schools serve at the will of the school, without the ironclad job protections of most union contracts.

This is the third consecutive year that such legislation has died under similar circumstances. The first year, the legislation was admittedly too loose, extending charter sponsorship to virtually any nonprofit organization. But over the last two years, the proposal has been substantially tightened, limiting its reach to colleges. Charter school organizations have also improved their self-policing, and fiscal restraints are tougher. Most charters still must be sponsored by their local school districts.

Colleges could experiment outside district bureaucracies. Their charter school successes could become public school models. Alas, the CTA wields enough clout in the Legislature to make the appealing plan disappear year after year, without a floor vote.

When it comes to school reforms, students ought to be the dominant interest. They too often are not.

Craig DeLuz

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