Archive for April, 2009

Sacramento, CA

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

This week I spent two days in Sacramento, California’s state capital, meeting with many elected officials. I had meetings in the offices of four state Assembly members and three state Senators. I then had cocktail discussions with six other legislators (just to be fair I had wine and the legislators only soda).  I also heard from State Controller John Chiang, who talked about the tremendous challenges of trying to reduce spending and increase revenue for the state, and the implications if they let the state become insolvent: credit dries up, loans come due, interest rates go up and all payments stop: salaries, education, road maintenance, etc. The state already has an incredibly low credit rating, one if not the worst of all 50 states, and this causes additional costs to California taxpayers as well as limits credit options for the state. If it were not for the Federal government stepping in to pay some debts for California, the state would have become solvent. This budget crisis is challenging. Furthermore,  he pointed out that about 15% of Californians make over $100k/year but pay for 84% of the states personal income tax…let that soak in, re-read it, and think about it. Later listened to Republican Assembly leader Mike Villines, who was quite charismatic, charming and seemed to be balanced in his approach to the budget issues. In my second day at the capital, I met with Dale Bonner, Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing, a 45,000-person organization, then Assembly member Jerry Hill, and then Lt. Governor Garamendi. The Lt. Governor was quite eloquent, informed and even charismatic. He is running for Governor in 2011 and places Education, Energy and Climate Change as the prominent issues. Also met with Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Stenberg who talked about the challenging budget issues and then ended the day in the Governor’s office for lunch with Cabinet Secretary of Appointments and others and we talked about housing, transportation, and energy issues as well as budget challenges. Overall, it was an excellent trip to Sacramento; I always enjoy my time in Sacramento and meeting with these incredibly hard working elected officials and servants and the myriad of challenges they deal with daily doing their best to serve the great state of California.