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Waste board and other panels are set for elimination

July 23, 2009 | 12:00 pm

State lawmakers are expected today to trash California’s controversial waste board, long the home of six-figure-salaried political appointees, as part of the recently inked budget deal.

Board members include a former lawmaker and a onetime aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who were appointed by the governor. Democratic lawmakers have appointed two of their former colleagues.

The governor made elimination of the panel a nonnegotiable demand in recent budget talks. It will take effect at the beginning of next year.

“We should not, and I will not, cut a dollar from education or a dollar from healthcare or a dollar from public safety or a dollar from our state parks without first cutting the Waste Management Board,” Schwarzenegger declared in a speech to a joint session of the Legislature last month.

The budget deal wipes away the agency’s governing board, each member of which earns about $132,000 a year, and consolidates the 400-plus-person agency into a newly created Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery. The governor will appoint a single director to head the department starting in 2010, according draft legislation.

The board’s elimination is more about symbolism than saving money: The agency pays for itself through fees, so the savings from board members’ salaries are not a boon to the California’s deficit-riddled general fund.

The board's three former lawmakers, all Democrats, will lose their board at the end of the year: John Laird of Santa Cruz, Carole Migden of San Francisco, and Sheila Kuehl of Santa Monica.

Several other obscure boards and commissions also may be consolidated into other commissions or agencies. Among them:

  • The Structural Pest Control Board.
  • The Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair.
  • The Board for Geologists and Geophysicists.
  • The Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento