The video news releases took on heated topics including nurse staffing ratios and teacher merit pay, with a decidedly pro-Schwarzenegger bent. The videos looked just like TV news stories and were distributed to local television stations around the state via satellite. Now Democrats are asking why state money was spent on the videos.
The state controller is responsible for paying the state’s bills, and Democrat Steve Westly says his office won’t be writing checks for the administration’s VNRs.
"Our auditors have looked at this and have determined that the VNR’s were not done in accordance with state law, so if we were to receive a request for state funds we would not be able to pay those."
But Westly’s office likely never will receive that request. Margita Thompson, the governor’s spokesperson says, the funds are already accounted for in department budgets and she makes no apologies for the videos.
"We know that we are on solid legal footing. We will continue with the VNRs because it is incumbent upon the state to disseminate the information that needs to be disseminated to the people of California."
Democratic legislators plan to revisit this issue as they consider the budgets of the departments that produced the videos.