PCL: Political Communication Lab, Stanford University
PCL: Political Communication Lab, Stanford University
  • PCL

Fact Check: Unions Vs. Gov. Schwarzenegger

May 4, 2005

The pitch battle between various unions and Gov. Schwarzenegger only gets bloodier. Recently, ABC7's political reporter Mark Mathews, looked at the unions Arnold-targeting ads and found them factually wanting. Now it's the governor's turn.

The governor's new ad moves away from attacking unions and focuses instead on the Democrat controlled legislature

Ad: "For every dollar the state takes in, legislators spend $1.10. And they can't fix the problem because they created it."

Fact Check: The governor's 10 percent overspending figure is too high.

According to the state's legislative analyst, overspending is more like 7 percent. And lawmakers aren't solely responsible for the overspending. California voters approved much of the spending while refusing to raise taxes and even voting for tax cuts, like Prop. 13.

Ad: "My reform agenda will bring back fiscal responsibility and accountability."

Fact Check: The governor's plan forces cuts in the budget if there's a shortfall, but details of what will be cut and how much are missing. And as the governor found out when proposing to cut benefits for firefighters, the devil is in the details. Opposition to the governor has pushed his approval ratings below 50 percent. For months he's been taking a pounding from groups like the California Teacher's Association.

Ad: "Of course I'm upset about Gov. Schwarzenegger breaking his promises on education. He said he'd never short change Prop. 98, which guarantees funding to our schools."

Fact Check: The governor does want to change Prop. 98's guarantee of school funding. He wants to delay repayment of funds that are held back during tough economic times.

Ad: "Then he borrowed two billion from the education budget and now refuses to pay it back."

Fact Check: The governor did delay funding by 2 billion last year. And he did break his promise to repay it this year. But it's also true that doing so would've cut deeply into other programs and overall he's increased spending on education.

At Stanford University, an expert on political communications says both ads are shortchanging voters. Professor Shanto Iyengar, Stanford University: "In American politics, image is everything, forget about substance."

Professor Iyengar says we don't have real debates on substantive issues about the complicated ways we got into this financial mess or how to get out. Professor Shanto Iyengar, Stanford University: "Rather we prefer to engage in finger pointing and the blame game and that's exactly what's being played out right now."