Jerry Brown to Abolish California Inspector General Office

By: - December 21, 2010 12:00 am

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger described the California Inspector General’s Office as a key government watchdog when he created it last year. Governor-elect Jerry Brown ( profile ) views it as a waste of money. Brown is eliminating the office to save $700,000, the Los Angeles Times reports . Schwarzenegger charged the office with monitoring stimulus spending. He appointed Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick, an influential auditor, as its head. But the office was hamstrung by institutional weaknesses — a lack of staff and no subpoena power — and Brown argues that other corners of state government already perform similar functions.

Nevada Governor-elect Brian Sandoval ( profile ) is considering balancing his state’s budget by targeting local governments, the Las Vegas Sun reports . The moves Sandoval is contemplating include grabbing some local property tax revenue for the state and shifting responsibility for providing some services such as foster care to localities. The locals have taken notice: In Reno, officials are trying to obligate road funds as quickly as possible to prevent the state from taking them away. Sandoval, a Republican, has pledged that he will plug a $3 billion budget deficit over the next biennium without raising taxes.

As he tries to shift more residents of Minnesota into Medicaid, Governor-elect Mark Dayton is in a feud with his predecessor over what he should have known and when he should have known it. Dayton wants to move patients from Minnesota-specific health care programs to Medicaid, so that the federal government will pay a portion of the costs. That strategy could secure more than $1 billion in federal aid. But the administration of outgoing Governor Tim Pawlenty recently told him that change can’t be implemented until October. Cal Ludeman, Pawlenty’s Human Services Commissioner, says the lag time wasn’t secret, but according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune Dayton is upset he wasn’t informed. “I don’t trust anything that I’ve been told now,” Dayton said. Pawlenty is a Republican, while Dayton is a Democrat.

Legislation to remove the collective bargaining rights of state workers and weaken the bargaining power of local government employees is a top priority for the Republican majority in the Ohio Legislature, the Columbus Dispatch reports . Lawmakers also are looking at a variety of other measures to reduce public employee benefits such as ending guaranteed seniority-based pay increases and removing a state law that gives teachers 15 sick days a year. In the elections, Republicans won the Ohio House of Representatives from Democrats. Governor-elect John Kasich ( profile ), also a Republican, has been critical of public employee unions, too.

Georgia ‘s Nathan Deal ( profile ) is reassigning Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham, who played a role in the ethics drama that swirled around the governor-elect’s candidacy, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports . Last year, while he was in Congress, Deal asked Graham to maintain a program that benefitted a salvage yard that he co-owned. Those conversations helped prompt a congressional ethics investigation. Deal resigned from Congress and was elected to succeed fellow Republican Sonny Perdue, the governor who had appointed Graham. Graham was controversial for other reasons — on the campaign trail, several gubernatorial candidates questioned the operations of the Department of Revenue. Deal has picked Doug MacGinnitie , a former city councilman in Sandy Springs, Georgia, for the position. Graham has been offered a job in the State Treasurer’s Office. 

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.