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Oct 10, 2005 - 01:10 PM

$105K for a Veto (Give it Back, Gov)

by Doug Heller
For weeks, Arnold sat with SB 399 on his desk. The bill would have ended a taxpayer subsidy of the insurance industry in which government health programs pay the medical costs of car accidents instead of the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. Supporters of the bill -- doctors, county hospitals and attorneys -- pinned their hopes for a Governor signature on a study explaining that taxpayers cough up $225 million each year to pay the claims that the insurance companies are allowed to duck.

Opponents had a different strategy. On Friday, the last day for Arnold to sign or veto the bill, one of the bill's lead opponents, the American Insurance Association, sent the gov a $105,000 campaign contribution. That same day, before you could say "waste of taxpayer money," Arnold vetoed the bill.

This is, of course, the worst kind of shakedown politics; the kind that had Californians so hopping mad in 2003 that they threw out the last cash register governor. As Arnold said during the recall: "the money comes in, the favors go out."

The gov must return the $105,000 that the insurance industry paid for this veto. Then, the legislature should reintroduce the bill on the first day of next year's session and send it back to the Gov. (Because the Legislature will have the same members next year, there should be no trouble passing an exact copy of the bill quickly.) Arnold can then figure out what to do with the proposal without the help of the insurance industry's checkbook.

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