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.