Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made an impassioned case to Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday that when it comes to the budget, California is getting shortchanged by the federal government.
Cheney, who was in Los Angeles to speak to the World Affairs Council and attend several campaign fundraisers, spent about 45 minutes in the morning with the governor at Cheney’s Century City hotel.
Aides said the meeting was friendly and lively.
“I had a chance today to meet again with your new governor, and my impression of him is proving correct,” Cheney told the World Affairs Council afterward. “I think Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fine man, a very capable executive, and he’s well suited to the job that you Californians have given him.”
He also joked about their respective political fortunes.
“Even a few years ago, no one would have bet on my joining the [presidential] ticket. The odds, I suppose, were roughly comparable to that of an action star becoming governor of California,” Cheney said.
An administration source said that among the topics raised by Schwarzenegger was the state’s desire to receive more federal funding for transportation and homeland security, and for the servicing and housing of illegal immigrants who are criminals. The governor and vice president also discussed the makeup of the commission that will review additional military base closures.
The White House is eager for good relations with Schwarzenegger, who political experts believe has a chance to reinvigorate the Republican Party in the state. However, at a time when the president is scrambling to find money to pay for increased defense spending and new programs, it is not clear how much leeway he has to ease California’s budget problems.
Later in the day, Schwarzenegger also pushed for more federal aid in an hourlong meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
In a brief news conference, Ridge and the governor said they had discussed homeland security funding, with Schwarzenegger asking why more federal money did not go to large urban areas and big states with more potential terrorist targets than smaller states.
Ridge seemed taken aback at the size of the media horde -- which included 11 camera crews Wednesday -- that typically follows Schwarzenegger. For his part, the governor indicated he was trying to make good on his campaign pledge to be so insistent on collecting more money for the state from Washington, D.C., that he would be called the Collectinator, not the Terminator.
Both men deflected criticism that the federal and state governments have not provided enough money to local law enforcement, with Ridge saying that Congress has appropriated billions for that purpose and Schwarzenegger arguing that when it comes to the state budget, all interests -- including local governments -- need to sacrifice.
Of the federal funds promised to California, the governor said, “It’s never enough.” Schwarzenegger added that he had begun the meeting with Ridge by asking the secretary: “Why don’t you pull out your checkbook and start writing checks to the state?”