Otherwise known as the SS California. The Golden State’s finances are a mess, with a projected deficit of around $25 billion, massive debt, and a state government unable to accurately forecast revenues and unwilling to make any significant budget cuts. So, what plan does the State Senate President Pro Tem come up with? He wants to raid a rainy-day fund that doesn’t even have any money in it yet. Genius!
With California rapidly running out of money, Senate Democrats cut to the chase Tuesday, saying they will not accept decimating the state’s safety net and unveiling the skeleton of their own budget-balancing proposal.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg pushed for raiding much of the state’s proposed $4.5 billion budget reserve next year to bankroll key health, welfare and college aid programs.
"The purpose of a rainy-day fund is to provide funds for a rainy day," he said. "It’s thunder and lightning in California right now."
Note the emphasis: that’s a reserve proposed for next year — it doesn’t even exist yet. And it may not exist if the state continues to be about as accurate as a newspaper’s astrology column when it comes to predicting future revenues. They said the last budget deal would close the gap, and look what happened to that: April was a terrible revenue month for California, when it should be among the best, and the deficit is horrendous again. And, as the Governator correctly points out, if there is money set aside, it’s put there to help alleviate the natural disasters California is subject to, such as fires and earthquakes. Instead, Steinberg wants to use money that doesn’t exist to fund social programs and pay off powerful unions at the risk of leaving us vulnerable during fire season.
I’m embarrassed to say Steinberg is from my home town.
There’s there’s this beauty from my Assemblywoman, Speaker Karen Bass:
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, in a written statement, stressed the need to preserve a safety net and said the projected shortfall should be cured with a "balanced approach" that includes "revenues and reforms as well as cuts."
Such lovely, wise words – "reforms," "balanced approach" – the fact is the legislature went hog-wild over the last ten years committing us to spending more than we could reasonably expect to take in, and now, to quote the President’s former spiritual advisor, our "chickens are coming home to roost." There is no solution to this that doesn’t either involve massive tax hikes, which will kill any hopes for a real recovery, or massive spending cuts, which will hurt like Hell in the short and medium term but which will free up money for the private sector to create the jobs that will mean a real recovery. What Speaker Bass is talking about is a continuation of the unsustainable status quo — now apparently including raiding fantasy funds.
This is what We The People get for not paying attention to state government.
(via Ed Morrissey)
Meanwhile, some people think there must be a few more drops of blood to squeeze from the California turnip. I’ll let Chuck DeVore, Assemblyman and candidate for the Republican nomination for the US Senate, explain it:
AFSCME (American Federation of State County Municipal Employees) is really worried about the budget shortfall in California will lead to unions layoffs. They are doubly worried that California voters on May 19th soundly defeated massive new taxes to close that budget gap. The taxpayer funded largesse which these unions have enjoyed is coming to an end because California has overpromised and undelivered. But never to fear! AFSCME has "discovered" nearly $44 Billion in 31 sources of "recurring revenues" (read higher taxes) that they want to foist on taxpayers to close the gap. Hover over these 31 job killing flavors (conveniently positioned to the left) to see the extent of the disaster about to ensue in Sacramento.
AFSCME is a government employees’ union, one that used to represent me. Their job is to protect the interests of their members, but, to do so, they want to batter California with more economy-choking taxes that we can’t afford and that voters have already soundly rejected. Have a look at the list: all of these are bad, and some are just nuts. And, if you’re a Californian, consider signing DeVore’s petition; we cannot afford this nonsense any longer.
Oh, and consider donating to his campaign. He’s a darned fine legislator and we desperately need to get rid of Barbara Boxer (D-Moron).