The goings on of Sacramento may seem remote for most in Del Norte County, and in some ways they are. With the majority of the state's residents living in Southern California, lawmakers' issues often revolve around the wants and desires of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco at the rest of the state's expense.
That isn't going to change anytime soon. So the question we must ask in Del Norte County - especially since our tax dollars largely support those metro areas - is how we can get our fair share.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's State of the State address on Tuesday offered an outline of how we might benefit. While the governor's plans are a long way from becoming reality, it is fairly clear that the state ultimately will adopt the provisions in some form. Our state representatives, county board supervisors and city leaders must determine what we might do to position ourselves so we're not cut out of the compromises and horse trading that inevitably will occur in the weeks and months ahead.
They can begin by considering the governor's main planks of his vision for California:
?More infrastructure bonds - Schwarzenegger wants $43.3 billion in new bond spending for schools, prisons and other infrastructure. Certainly the College of the Redwoods and Del Norte Unified Schools could benefit from additional classrooms and facilities. And with the criminal population rising, there is the potential for expanding Pelican Bay State Prison, which ultimately means more jobs with decent wages and excellent benefits for our community.
?Health insurance for all - With nearly a third of the county's population living in poverty, regular and quality health care is a distant dream for many Del Norters. We need to reverse that.
?Greenhouse emission cuts - The governor wants to cut carbon content of transportation fuels by 10 percent in 13 years to fight global warming. The long-term benefit to us is the improved chance of preserving our fisheries and redwood forest ecosystems, the mainstays of Del Norte County's economy.
Local elected and civic leaders ought to get their heads together and ensure not just that these measures pass but that when possible, we're the direct beneficiaries of them.