Lawmakers have beef: Where’s the substance? |

Lawmakers have beef: Where’s the substance?

There were not many answers in Gov. Gray Davis’ State of the State speech, according to South Lake Tahoe’s representatives and other officials.

State Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, and Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, had harsh words for the Democratic governor. His fifth such address centered on the creation of 500,000 jobs to stimulate California’s economy and erase a $35 billion deficit.

“It’s much like the many other speeches he has given: long on rhetoric, short on facts,” Oller said. “We all know there is a lot of cheap talk in politics and this is an all-time low.”

Oller sounded frustrated and felt the governor should have apologized about the deficit.

“I told one of my friends here that the speech could be titled ‘We Made California Great but It’s Not Our Fault’,” Oller said. “The great things he was talking about put us in this financial bind. He ought to be a grown-up and take responsibility for what he’s done. He put us in a greater hole and he’s going to ask (the Legislature) for a bigger shovel and I hope for once we say no. California is the laughing stock of the nation.” One area in which the speech had uniqueness was that Davis didn’t cover a broad array of issues, instead he mostly covered the budget and economy.

Leslie believed job-making could solve California’s woes but thought Davis was wrong in creating government jobs which could perish if bond money dries up.

The assemblyman referenced a bill that increased the rates for worker’s compensation as a “job-killer.”

Leslie called the speech “weak.” After the address, Leslie said the governor stopped by to say he didn’t inflate the budget numbers. Leslie said there has been talk in Sacramento of Davis inflating the deficit numbers so taxes can be increased.

Diane Scheerhorn, superintendent of Lake Tahoe Unified School District, heard the address on radio as she was driving back from a superintendents’ meeting in Placerville. She felt education didn’t get enough attention as to what type of cuts would be in store.

“I felt that the governor’s speech was fairly broad-based in nature,” she said. “It left us with intrigue in finding out what the 2003-04 budget reductions will be.”

The district is already facing more than a $1 million shortfall because of declining enrollment. Scheerhorn will be looking for Friday’s budget proposal by the governor to see how it will affect LTUSD and perhaps deepen the district’s troubles.

City Manager David Jinkens was in Sacramento with Mayor Judy Brown and various education officials representing LTUSD and Lake Tahoe Community College. The group met with Oller and Leslie to talk about their stances on the budget and situations at South Lake Tahoe.

Jinkens was buoyed by Davis’ call to cultivate the growth of small business. Since taking his position in the summer, Jinkens has been an outspoken advocate for creating a small business base and rewarding businesses that are friendly to the environment.

If making a welcoming mat for business includes loosening bureaucratic restrictions, Jinkens said so be it.

“I think that concept is one I’ve certainly advocated and members of the (City) Council advocated,” he said. “We can’t afford to lose our businesses to Nevada.”

— Contact William Ferchland at

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