Democratic Legislators Block Some Schwarzenegger Proposals, Including Health Measures
State Democratic legislators "appear especially determined to block items that" might improve Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) public ratings, such as a program to provide lower-cost prescription drugs to state residents and a nurse training initiative at community colleges, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In April, Democrats rejected the $11.7-million California Rx proposal, which would have encouraged pharmaceutical companies to provide voluntary discounts on prescription drugs for some state residents. In addition, lawmakers this month rejected a $10-million plan to expand nursing training programs at community colleges in favor of a plan that would allocate the money to other community college programs.
Assembly Budget Committee Chair John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) said many of Schwarzenegger's proposed programs are being rejected because their funding was slated to come from one-time income from a state tax amnesty program. Laird said one-time funds should not be used to create ongoing state programs.
Laird said that the California Rx proposal was flawed, adding, "You need to start with a good program and agree to fund it."
However, AARP spokesperson Mark Beach said he was surprised at how quickly Democrats rejected the California Rx proposal. "We realize this program wasn't the be-all and end-all. But we were trying to get people help this year. We thought this would be a good first step," Beach said, adding, "It's disappointing when partisanship ends up doing away with a program that brings real benefits to Californians."
The Times reports that the governor has "tried to use the prospect of the special election to extract concessions from" Democrats, adding that so far the "tactic has had the opposite effect" (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 5/31).