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Chamber CEO Reports On Sacramento Journey

 

STATE GOVERNMENT-A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY

STATE GOVERNMENT-A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY

I, along with nearly forty other community leaders, had the opportunity on March 13-14, 2006 to visit our state capitol in Sacramento.  The trip, sponsored by Assemblyman Dr. Keith Richman, KHTS AM 1220 Radio, and Valencia Acura was designed to allow this delegation to see our state government in action. Fortunately, we did just that; unfortunately, the entire group came away feeling that our state government is a family going through a crisis, and that the system is broken.

Certainly, the sponsors of the this educational trip did a fantastic job of putting our delegation in front of the people we needed to see to better understand state government.  We saw both Republican and Democratic members from the Assembly and the Senate, representatives of the Sacramento bureaucracy, lobbyists, and even a representative of the Governors office.  As we sat listening intently trying to comprehend what we were hearing, many of us had differing feelings on the messages we were receiving.  Some of us were angry, some were confused, and me... well I went back 50 years thinking about the old Abbott and Costello routine where the conversation went something like-"who's on first...no, who's on second and what is on first"-oh well, you get the picture. 

Each of us left Sacramento after 10 + meetings feeling that are state government family is dysfunctional at best.  Democrats don't talk to democrats, republicans don't talk with republicans and democrats do not speak to republicans.  Of course, then there is Governor Schwarzenegger; it would appear that few if any legislators visit with the governor's office.  Polarization and "turf protection" appear to be the day-to-day way of doing business at our capitol. 

We heard from nearly every official that spoke to our delegation that our state budget is in desperate need of an overhaul.  We are billons (that's right, billions, not millions) of dollars in debt and we continue to spend and borrow at a reckless pace.  Everyone knows there is an unbelievable deficit in place, but no one appears ready to come to the table to either cut expense or raise taxes, or some combination of both.  The state is positioning itself to place a heavy burden on our children and our children's children.

While much of what our delegation heard and experienced during our Sacramento trip was distressing, there were clearly a few bright spots as well.  Our Assemblyman, Dr. Keith Richman has been known to speak to the issue of legislative reform for years.  He has been at odds with leadership on many issues and has consistently demonstrated his desire to work on both sides of the political party isle.  Additionally, the delegation heard from at least two other legislators who seemed more interested in solving problems on statewide issues rather than the leadership or committee position they held or the office they sat in... those two, Joseph Canciamilla (Democrat,Assembly District 11) and Joe Nation (Democrat, Assembly District 6) had a refreshing message for the Santa Clarita delegation about such issues as legislative reform and budgeting.

So, here is the question that needs to be answered, "What's next and what can we as individuals do to bring common sense government back to Sacramento?'  The answer to that simple question seems to be obvious, get involved.  Get to know your state assemblyman or senator; send letters to the governor's office urging him to work both sides of the isle (democrats and republicans) and pass sensible legislation that's good for the citizens of the our state, and to balance our budget.  Study the candidates who will be running for Assemblyman Richman's seat on the November ballot and remind them that they are going to Sacramento because of you, the voter.  Let all our regional politicians know that we can no longer have 'business as usual" politics and that we expect them to get our governmental house in order.  We are at a critical point in our states history!  Are we ready to get involved so our state can once again have the reputation of being one of the best-governed states in the union, or will it be more business as usual?

Larry Mankin
CEO/President
Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce