Budget thoughts after DAY 50…

Katy Grimes: Yesterday was day 50 without a state budget. Both the Assembly and Senate were in session, hearing hundreds of bills – but no budget talk.

When the conversation turns to talk of the budget, eyes glaze over, and boredom usually sets in for most of us — and apparently that includes legislators.

Some of the bills heard and passed in both the Senate and Assembly yesterday were about every conceivable issue — except the budget, other than to add to it:

  • ski helmets
  • electronic smoking devices
  • medical licensing
  • home escrows
  • civil marriage
  • veterans benefits
  • family reunification in prison
  • the treatment of Italian Americans in WWll
  • punishment for defacing archeological property
  • telecommunications
  • naturopathic medicine

At least Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles, authored a bill that passed, that would prevent elected public officials from filing for unemployment insurance. She called SB 1211 a “No brainer.”

With the lack of a state budget costing the state more than $50 million each day to borrow money to keep the state operational, California is in crisis mode.

Sources in the Capitol are saying that only recently have Capitol Democrats realized that Wall Street thinks California is a joke. Today the Wall Street Journal wrote, “If California resorts to IOUs, it will be the latest humiliation for the cash-strapped state. Last year, California, facing a $26 billion budget shortfall, issued about 450,000 IOUs valued at a total of $2.6 billion.”

Most people attached to the state government (except legislators) are not able able to pay their bills and obligations – not furloughed employees, nor the state vendors about to receive IOU’s in lieu of payment. The WSJ explains, “Issuing IOUs will hurt state coffers. Credit agencies could lower the state’s credit rating, which will make it cost more to borrow from Wall Street. The state will also have to repay the IOUs with interest, though that cost the state less than $10 million last year.”

In the good old days, the governor would privately talk to every legislator to find out what they are seeking to get out of the budget, to discover where compromises could be made. Capitol insiders are saying that Governor Schwarzenegger is not talking to anyone but his staff.

Instead, Capitol staff sources are saying that Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, is meeting with legislators, in alphabetical order.  It is unknown how far into the alphabet he has progressed.

For clues as to who will go soft in the Republican party and vote for the Democrat’s budget raising taxes, usually those who are termed out are easy targets. But historically, the better choice is those legislators who are promised sweet appointments to boards and commissions. Former Democrat Assemblyman John Laird received one such post, on the Cal EPA Integrated Waste Management Board – with none other than former Senators Sheila Kuhl and Carol Migden.

As for who is termed out, Republican Senator Dave Cogdill, elected in 2006, is not running for reelection.  Senators Aanestad, Ashburn, Cedillo, Romero, Hollingsworth and Ducheny are all termed out.

And in the Assembly, according to Ballotpedia, incumbents are running for re-election in 52 of the 80 races in 2010 (65% of races). Assemblyman Roger Niello’s term is also up however, he recently announced that he is running for recently deceased Senator Dave Cox’s seat, keeping him relevant.

Legislating helmet laws, social programs and well-intentioned resolutions, is superfluous, extravagant nonsense mostly designed to keep legislators busy. However, the only thing they are required to accomplish every year, is to pass a balanced budget — a task at which they have patently failed year after year.

Meanwhile, the ridiculous bills keep coming, infringing on Californians’ personal liberties, creeping up on us like bad underware.

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  1. Jamie
    Jamie 24 August, 2010, 12:33

    Great article. The State’s budget crisis has me deeply worried. Procrastination is never a good idea, but unfortunately California’s legislators are practicing just that.

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