Some Critics Say Schwarzenegger Plan To Consolidate Boards Favors Some Campaign Contributors
Leaders of some consumer and labor groups say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) plan to eliminate 88 state boards and commissions, including some health-related commissions, amounts to "favors for business interests who are major campaign contributors," the Sacramento Bee reports (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 1/23).
Schwarzenegger during his State of the State address earlier this month proposed eliminating -- among other commissions -- the Board of Registered Nursing and consolidating the responsibilities of the Medical Board of California to the state's consumer services agency.
Schwarzenegger also proposed consolidating the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board into a single, nine-member commission called the Employment and Benefits Appeals Board (California Healthline, 1/7).
According to the Bee, some advocates have noted that pharmaceutical industry executives did not agree with recommendations by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation that the state workers' compensation insurance system should align its payments for prescription drugs with Medi-Cal's payments. Schwarzenegger recommended the elimination of CHSWC. The pharmaceutical industry has contributed more than $367,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign, the Bee reports.
Some critics also have noted that Schwarzenegger did not recommend the consolidation or elimination of commissions such as the New Vehicle Board, which relate to "big contributor[s]" to his campaign, although the California Performance Review report recommended elimination or consolidation.
Jill Dulich, senior director of Marriott International and a former employers' representative on CHSWC, said the elimination of the commission would indicate that "special interests are going to take over the system again."
Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said Schwarzenegger "is becoming the biggest corporate-interest, special-interest governor in the state's history." He added, "He's surrounded himself with big business interests, and he is basically implementing their programs. That is not a good balance for California."
Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Granada Hills) also said he had "concerns" about Schwarzenegger's proposal to eliminate the state medical board. He added, "I think it's very important for boards to have members of the profession so there can be adequate and appropriate peer review."
Bill Hauck, president of the California Business Roundtable and co-chair of the California Performance Review Commission, said, "We're talking about the regulatory side of government with the boards and commissions. California has the most complex regulatory process in the United States, ... and it can be improved without abrogating any environmental law or existing protections for Californians."
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Ashley Snee said that most functions of the boards and commissions proposed for elimination would continue. She said, "The governor is following the people's agenda, the people who sent him to Sacramento to reform government and make it more responsive."
A report accompanying Schwarzenegger's recommendations said that the boards suggested for elimination or consolidation "do little to advance the interests of the people of California" and that eliminating or consolidating the boards would "improve the productivity of state government" (Sacramento Bee, 1/23).