The Governator Takes a Break
For someone who's played so many tough guys and superheroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed surprisingly human last week. The 59-year-old California governor underwent surgery for a broken leg suffered while skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho.
In a 90-minute operation, Schwarzenegger's fractured right femur was put back together with wires and screws. While the governor was under anesthesia, the powers of his office were briefly relinquished to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. Doctors said a full recovery would take about eight weeks, during which time the former bodybuilder will walk with crutches. Presumably that means he won't be doing much dancing at his second inauguration, which is set for late this week. Schwarzenegger was re-elected in November.
The skiing accident was the governor's third health problem in just over a year. In December 2005, he spent several hours at a hospital because of a rapid heartbeat. In January, he received 15 stitches in his lip after the motorcycle he was piloting collided with a car.
Taft, Graft, and a Buckeye State Slap
Being the great-grandson of famed Ohioan and former President William Howard Taft apparently doesn't get you off the hook in the Buckeye State. Being the governor doesn't help, either. Last week in Columbus, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a formal reprimand to Gov. Bob Taft for failing to report nearly $6,000 in gifts during his term in officestate law requires officeholders to report the source of all gifts valued at more than $75. In Taft's case, the gifts were mainly fees for playing in golf outings, though they also included hockey tickets and a sweater. Taft had pleaded no contest in 2005 to misdemeanor ethics charges and paid a $4,000 fine.
In handing down a public reprimand, the court said it was meting out the minimum punishment because Taft had no prior record and had cooperated in the investigation. Taft is the only Ohio governor to be charged with a crime while in office (his term expires January 8). His great-grandfather was the 27th president and the 10th chief justice of the United States.
Ponying Up to Puff in Texas
The Lone Star State has long boasted of being a low-tax state as well, but now that reputation may take a bit of a hit. Starting this week, every pack of cigarettes sold in Texas will carry a tax of $1.41a hefty $1 hike from the previous levy. Legislators in Austin, who had been facing a dramatic shortfall in revenue after a key public school property tax was ruled unconstitutional, turned to a tobacco tax to fill the gap. Lawmakers hope that the fees will raise roughly $700 million in revenue and discourage teenagers from experimenting with tobacco.
Cigarette taxes have become popular in recent years, both with legislators and voters. In November's elections, Arizona and South Dakota passed ballot measures to boost tobacco fees. In all, some six states are raising cigarette taxes this year, leaving Texas's new tax as the 16th highest in the nation. Only eight states in the nation have not raised tobacco levies during the past five years.