Lightning round: 10 questions for Darrell Steinberg

Pension reform and Kings championship aspirations

Will there be significant pension reform this next year?

Yes, there be significant pension reform, but we are going to protect the middle class while we do it.

Is there an end in sight to spiraling higher-education costs?

Yes. We’re going to make an aggressive effort to reduce the costs of instructional materials and textbooks for college students with Senate bills 1052 and 1053. It’s one strategy among many.

I am 60 years old; will I ever ride on a California high-speed train?

You will definitely ride on segments of the California high-speed-rail train and hopefully the full ride.

On the next year’s state budget, how many billions of dollars must be found?

Well, the deficit is just under $10 billion. We have to pass the governor’s revenue initiative because it’s the only initiative that provides real relief on the noneducation side. We’ve made far too many cuts to the poor, to the safety net in California, and the governor’s initiative is crucial to ensure that we don’t make more cuts than are absolutely necessary.

Will the Sacramento Kings win an NBA championship in the new arena?

I am more confident that the new arena will actually be built. (Laughs.) That’s my answer, and I’m sticking to it.

Will Californians support any of the proposed tax initiatives?

Yes, they will. But I’m worried if there is more than one on the ballot. There needs to just be one, and it ought to be the governor’s.

How many electoral votes will President Barack Obama receive?

Over 300.

Different political clubs like the Sierra Club and the chamber of commerce rate politicians. What would the Darrell Steinberg rating of Gov. Jerry Brown be with one the lowest and 100 the highest?

Oh, Jesus. Oh, you’re killing me. Well, I’d give the governor a good solid 90—how is that? I think his leadership has been steady, I think there is a lot more to do, but I think he is doing just fine.

If we asked you in the fifth grade what you wanted to do when you grew up, what would you say?

When I was in the fifth grade? Well, of course I wanted to be a baseball player. Unfortunately, I had a hard time hitting from the right side. And then I wanted to be a doctor, but I wasn’t all that great in science, and so I found that I was pretty good at arguing a case, so I found my path.

Finally, if you had to be stranded on a deserted island with one Republican state senator, who would it be?

OK, here’s my answer: I would happily sit with all of them so long as their numbers were less than one-third of the Senate. How is that? (Laughs.)

But who’s the one?

That I would hang out with? Let me think about it. Give me a second—you know what? I would probably sit with Tony Strickland, because we could talk sports all day.