Have you ever bought the really cheap garbage bags?

Political Consultant specializing in issues management and strategic research


Reducing medical reimbursement rates for doctors and pharmacies will hurt consumers and businesses.  Finding a doctor or a pharmacy that will accept Medi-Cal patients will become more difficult, and Medi-Cal patients will then deluge those that continue to accept them.  Such pharmacies could be forced out of business, leaving people with no place to turn – except the emergency room.

Furthermore, as more and more doctors and pharmacies do not accept Medi-Cal patients, many people will be unable to obtain preventative care and unable to fill prescriptions. Predictably, patients will suffer physically and taxpayers will suffer financially.

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Know When to Walk Away

Political Consultant specializing in issues management and strategic research


As Governor Schwarzenegger’s analysis notes, California ranks "dead last" in terms of per capita lottery sales.  Several east coast states, including Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania do far better.  Interestingly, the independent Legislative Analyst’s analysis reports that the average revenue of lotteries in states west of the Mississippi are significantly lower than those east of the Mississippi.

While a thorough analysis of the states’ games, demographics, and marketing could help explain this difference, a simple explanation occurred to me:  lotteries have just been around longer in many eastern states.

Maybe playing the lottery, like many other behaviors, is passed on from parents to their children, and there just aren’t as many age groups, and therefore as many people, playing the lottery in California – too many of today’s lottery players don’t have children old enough to play, never mind grandchildren.

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Civic Engagement?

Political Consultant specializing in issues management and strategic research


"Cut Welfare, public housing and job programs. I’m tired of paying for worthless lazy scum bags who spread theirs legs and make us pay for their kids."

That’s "Sandwich8’s" thoughts on the budget. Not something regrettably leaked from a private email, but a comment purposely posted to a public website.

Whether it’s an article on the budget crisis, the lottery, health care, retirement income, or an increase in California’s teen birth rate, we need all Californians to think about real ideas and embrace genuine solutions to the state’s problems.  Here are some alternatives to the prevailing themes that most readers of California’s newspapers and blogs embrace in their online comments:

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A Nanny State? Not with this budget!

Political Consultant specializing in issues management and strategic research


Reporters, academics, lawmakers, and other great thinkers are debating the most complex elements of Governor Schwarzenegger’s May Revise, in particular borrowing against the state lottery or increasing the sales tax to help eliminate the budget deficit.

But there are other aspects of the May Revise that will even more immediately impact lives, and we should be talking about that too.

Under the proposed budget, monthly payments to foster families would drop from $530 to $477.  That means that children who already lack a home, a family support system, any sort of constancy, will be devalued once again.

There are already far too few people willing to be foster parents.  This budget proposal tells them – and their would-be foster children – that their well-being is worth even less in a budget crisis.

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Learning from Michigan

Political Consultant specializing in issues management and strategic research


Pass the Service Tax, Don’t Pass the Service Tax: Just Keep Talking About It

California’s leaders are presently conspiring on how to fill the budget deficit by raising taxes while also clinging to a tenuous argument that they aren’t really raising taxes, but just changing the formula, shifting the tax burden.

California can learn from Michigan’s experience of passing – and then repealing  – a service tax just hours after it took effect.  The legislation would have put a 6% tax on a vast range of services including legal services, landscaping, janitorial services, manicures, warehousing and storage, investment services, and document preparation services. The legislature replaced it with a new Michigan Business Tax (MBT), a business income tax and a modified gross receipts tax.

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