Well, it appears that things might not be working out quite that way. The Associated Press, citing a report from the Legislature's own budget analyst, paints a picture of rampant incompetence.
Forecast: California faces another massive deficit - California will face a nearly $21 billion budget gap over the next year and a half, extending a fiscal crisis that already has led to steep cuts to public schools, social services and health programs ... In a report Wednesday, the Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst pins the blame on the deep recession and poor decisions by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers over the past year.
Now that's wild. When their very own analyst says the Legislature is doing an terrible job, and then blames his bosses for running the state into fiscal disaster, you know things there have got to be pretty awful.
So how are are our legislators dealing with all these problems? Are they staying up late at night poring over the books looking for a way to make the numbers work? Well, according to an article from the Sacramento Bee, they are staying up late. But maybe not in quite the way we'd hoped.
Amid budget crisis, California legislators still wined and dined on lobbyists' dime - It was Valentine's Day eve 2009, and the state faced a $40 billion deficit and a deadline ... The governor and legislative leaders had just agreed on a package of sobering tax increases and spending cuts that would affect every Californian. But the package awaited review by the full Legislature ... Conservatives were decrying the tax increases, Democrats were trying to stand firm, and national newspapers were opining on whether California would go bankrupt ... That same night, AT&T spent $1,800 to send 18 legislators, legislative staffers and their children to "Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour" at Arco Arena ... Such contrasts were commonplace, according to a Bee analysis of gifts to legislators over 18 months, ending in June. While their constituents coped with the worst recession in decades and the state suffered through another budget crisis, California's legislators and leaders ate about 8,000 free meals, pocketed about 2,000 free event tickets and accepted enough flowers to open a new shop, all courtesy of lobbyists.
That is a pretty damning assessment of how our state legislature is doing its job.
Attached to this article is something called the Sacramento Bee Data Base. And within that data base there is a function that enables the reader to not only see how much every elected official and their staff is getting from lobbyists, but also exactly what those gifts were. And then it ranks then by the gross dollar value received.
So being the curious sort of fellow that I am, I decided I'd check up our boys Assemblyman Anthony Adams and State Senator Bob Huff. And you know, both of them really distinguished themselves in this report. Why? Because they both finished in the Top 20 of all Sacramento elected officials! Adams came in at #7, while Bob Huff was no slouch either at #19. They might not be much in the way of elected officials, but they're as tough as nails when it comes to elbowing their way to the lobbyist trough. Quite an achievement.
So here is a very partial list of the gifts and services our two legislators and staff received from lobbyists. Remember, it certainly isn't everything they got, but does give you a pretty good idea of who is lavishing free stuff on the two ethical heavyweights we elected to represent us.
Assemblyman Anthony Adams (#7 CA lobbyist gift recipient)
- Massage Certificates from Body Center Physical Therapy .... $290.00
- Beer and wine from Anheiser Busch ... $130.00
- Tickets to Kings game from AT&T ... $121.00
- Tickets, parking, and lunch from Oak Tree Racing (Indian Gaming) ... $315.00
- Blue Tooth Headset from Nectar Associates ... $120.00
- Lunch and gift from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ... $107.00
- Tickets USC vs. ASU and food from California Corr. Officers ... $344.00
- Dinner & Reception from Entertainment Software Associates ... $420.00
- Dinner & Reception from California B.I.A. ... $264.00
- Dinner @ La Verne CC from Metropolitan Water Dist So Cal ... $135.00
State Senator Bob Huff (#19 CA lobbyist gift recipient)
- Rubicon Jeep Trip from Chrysler Motors ... $780.00
- Dinner @ LG's Prime Steakhouse from Philip Morris Tobacco ... $131.00
- Reception with California B.I.A. ... $122.00
- Dinner from Sempra Energy ... $200.00
- Tickets to Billy Joel concert from BP America ... $316.00
- Lakers Tickets from BP America ... $175.00
- Tickets to Angels Game from AT&T ... $195.00
- Dinner from California B.I.A. ... $132.00
- Dinner from Exxon/Mobil ... $130.00
- Dinner from Sempra Energy ... $165.00
Well there you go. At least they're good at something.