Feast AND famine
We’re got anorexia and bulimia, simultaneously, I said in my question. With health reform, the feds are expanding coverage to the needy, surely bumping up Medi-Cal enrollment and those coming to safety-net hospitals like Community Medical Centers. Meanwhile, the deficit-ridden state of California is into another machete season with social services. So, what’s sliding around in Sacramento to deal with this binge-purge political maelstrom?
The answer is at the federal level, said John Meyers, Sacramento bureau chief for KQED’s “Sacramento Report,” broadcast in the Valley on KVPR. Where is the power of the California collaborative in serving its home base? Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House; the largest state delegation in the union; and two well-positioned senior senators in Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer? What has this gotten for us?
Meyers and another jorno colleague, Anthony York, editor of the Capital Weekly and an LA Times correspondent, were dishing during a luncheon meeting of about 40 folks in Clovis at the Trelio restaurant, staged by the Maddy Institute at Cal State Fresno.
Have to admit it’s a smidgen odd that, after 10 years working for Community, I find myself “interviewing” those in the news biz where I spent 30 years as a reporter and editor. It was (and is) a recurring, disheartening experience to find that, no matter which party’s in power in Sac or DC, that the Valley’s an afterthought in its numerous social and physical needs. The virtual pols-coming-home script from 30,000-feet: Ah, the scenic Sierra. OK, the flat polluted Valley, back to dozing. Ah, the coastal range. Almost home.
York joked that he was the optimist. The ability to punt California problems into next year is a good thing, with a new governor, new legislative leaders and maybe a new strategic vibe. Meyers chalked up the past as “none of the solutions have been resolutions,” rather more “get out of town alive.” The elected do faithfully represent us, Meyers contended, in that we the voters don’t know what we want beyond the impossible – keep the services the same and don’t increase the taxes.
I get it. Being a political moderate — being willing to meet halfway on some issues — is now a sign of being a dysfunctional, easily voted-out numbskull. Explains a lot about California. Folks like the last state Sen. Ken Maddy, the now-model of middle of the road, must be rolling.
Much of the banter and questions were familiar to avid news readers and policy wonks. One comment struck me. Why, in such a tech-savvy state, are there only two occasions during the annual budget cycle that projections are provided by the Legislative Analyst’s Office — November, before the Gov does his annual budget, and then the May-revise, when the Gov’s budget is nowadays usually trumped by more bad news? Kinda explains — beyond sheer political demagoguery — why California rarely meets its July 1 “mandatory” budget deadline.
If you’re hungry for problems, a new season of gluttony/starvation is upon us.