WASHINGTON — California Controller Gray Davis, covering all bases in his battle with Gov. George Deukmejian over workplace regulations, called Wednesday for the federal government to bring its worker safety programs up to par with those standards maintained in the past by the state.
Davis' proposal for toughened legislation, however, may prove a moot point as far as California is concerned because of a state appellate court decision this week. The court ruled that Deukmejian overstepped his authority when he cut off $7 million in funding for Cal/OSHA and turned control of the safety monitoring program over to the federal government.
But Deukmejian has pledged to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Davis and his supporters, while welcoming the victory granted them by the appellate court, said they are taking no chances that the decision will be upheld on appeal.
After meeting with supportive California Democratic congressmen to unveil his plan for federal action, Davis told reporters that a long-term federal commitment to protecting workers in all states is more important than the outcome of the current battle in Sacramento.
An audit prepared by Davis' office revealed "a dramatic difference" in safety inspection and enforcement at the state and federal levels, he said. A "retreat" by California to the less stringent federal enforcement regulations would at least double the number of on-the-job accidents, he contended.