Change in Washington could help California

January 20, 2009 8:27:01 PM PST
While California continues to struggle with massive budget woes, there is hope the change in the White House will bring some much needed funding to our cash strapped state and perhaps calm some long running battles between Sacramento and Washington.

After President Bush vetoed it twice, the expansion of government-subsidized healthcare for children is one of the first things President Obama said he will approve. California really needs the extra funding to handle the 30,000 new cases a month the Healthy Families program is seeing.

"We're going to get more children insured. It's an awesome thing. We've been fighting for this for a long time," said Nancy Ly, a healthcare advocate.

California's environment could also be a big winner. More forest land is likely to be protected, and the development of renewable energy can boost the state's economy. And the state can stop fighting the Bush Administration over tailpipe emissions that contribute to global warming.

"They wanted to cut down forests; they wanted to drill for oil in special areas. And they didn't believe we needed to address climate change. We have a complete sea change with this new administration," said Barbara Boyle, from the Sierra Club.

While not a priority for the new president, the federal government is expected to lay off on Bush's crackdown of medical marijuana use, but not everyone is happy with the change in Washington.

Conservatives don't like that embryos will be included in stem cell research.

"We're experimenting on unborn embryos for an effort to cure diseases. Why aren't Americans outraged?" said Terry Thompson, from Life Legal Defense.

Political experts warn some policy changes benefiting California could take a while, given the way Washington works.

"A system, by the way, that's designed not to allow Presidents to get everything they want, but to check and balance, to thwart, to require compromise. That system will eventually catch up to our president," said Professor Larry Berman, Ph.D., from the U.C. Davis political science department.

What state leaders really want changed is how much money the federal government sends here. For years, California has been a donor state which means for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, less than 80 cents comes back.

California leaders are sure to bend President Obama's ear while in D.C.