10:36 PM PDT on Monday, October 18, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

Pension bill floor vote
California Assembly pension bill floor vote – October 2010
Published: 10/18/2010 05:28 PM

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s relationship with Republican lawmakers from the Inland area is ending on a decidedly low note.

Over the years, the Republican governor and local GOP legislators have butted heads on issues ranging from tribal gambling and state budgets to bill vetoes and ideology.

But none of those disputes was as pointed and personal as the aftermath of this month’s vote on legislation to roll back pension benefits for new state workers.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Schwarzenegger called out several Inland Republican lawmakers who did not vote for the measure and suggested that they had “sold out” to unions because of campaign contributions.

“In this pension reform battle I expected organized labor to oppose me. And since most Democrats are in bed with labor I expected them to oppose me too,” Schwarzenegger said in his address. “But what I was surprised to see was Republicans also in bed with the same unions, only hidden under the sheets.”

The governor proceeded to name Senate GOP Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, who was one of five Senate Republicans who opposed the pension bill. He also named Assembly members Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, and Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, who abstained.

Jeffries fired off a barbed retort a few hours after the governor’s remarks.

“I have enjoyed working with the Governor, and appreciate that he has finally decided to stand and fight for something anything — even something he abandoned and apologized for after losing in the 2005 special election, leaving those of us who supported him and his efforts out to hang and dry,” wrote Jeffries, who had joined the governor at a firefighter memorial ceremony in Sacramento earlier in the day.

“And despite the misrepresentations in his remarks, it was very impressive to see that he was actually able to name six Republicans currently serving in the Assembly,” Jeffries said. “He has been a very entertaining governor and I wish him well in his renewed acting career.”

UC Riverside professor Shaun Bowler called the tone of the remarks unusual in politics, even for a governor soon to leave office.

“Usually, life goes on. Politicians know that you may be voting against me today but I may need you tomorrow,” Bowler said. “But this governor doesn’t need these people tomorrow. He’s out in a few weeks.”

UNION TIES

GOP leaders backed the governor’s demand for pension changes as part of any budget deal with majority Democrats, who are traditional allies of state labor groups.

Some GOP lawmakers, though, have strong ties with public-safety unions, such as the correctional officers association. Among those is Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, whose district includes one prisons.

Miller voted for the pension bill. But in his Saturday remarks, Schwarzenegger accused Miller of doing so only after the measure had passed.

“Not only did they try to block reform, but then they did not even have the courage to publicly stand behind their action,” Schwarzenegger said.

Miller, along with more than a dozen other Republicans, did not vote on an earlier, unsuccessful version of the bill. That forced a parliamentary maneuver involving a middle-of-the-night trip to the home of Secretary of State Debra Bowen to generate a second measure.

A video of the early Oct. 8 floor vote on that bill shows Miller not voting as the roll stays open for several minutes. Finally, it reaches the minimum 41 votes necessary and the roll is closed at 41-7.

The official tally, 47-10, lists Miller as an “aye” vote.

“The vote closed before I cast my vote,” Miller said in an e-mail Monday. “I voted once. I voted yes.”

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