No News: Still No Budget

Katy Grimes: Has the California Legislature  jumped the shark, and moved beyond relevance or even recovery?

In a moment-in-time characterized by absurdity, the California budget is swiftly becoming a bad joke. There is no budget. There has been no budget. And it doesn’t seem as if there is any real plan to pass a budget any time soon even though legislators could pass a budget tomorrow.

Today the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review committee rehashed budget proposals again. And the news? No resolution, no agreement, no budget.

However, there was some drama today (as dramatic as financial talks can be…). The stern tone used by California’s Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor when he affirmed that the Legislature is able to pass any legislation it wants – including legislation involving public employee bargaining agreements – was not lost on anyone present at the hearing.

Despite committee Chairman Mark Leno’s opening talk about the urgency of the matter (and legislator’s upcoming recess), Taylor subtly reminded legislators that much of what he was covering in the hearing today, he has gone over before with them.

Senator Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, sounded a trifle irritated late into the hearing. “I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the hearing is Mr. Chairman,” said Huff, stating his frustration that any headway legislators have made with budget cuts while attempting to shore up the $26.6 billion deficit, “the public employee unions said ‘no’ to.”

“It goes back to the whole premises of who we are protecting – public employee unions are protecting themselves,” Huff said.

Earlier in the hearing, Huff was critical of how Michael Cohen, Deputy Director of the Department of Finance, described state loans and fund shifts as “reductions” and “cuts.”

A cut is a cut, and not a shift, or a loan. If the state still owes the money after shifting or borrowing, then it’s not a cut.

“We need to treat the state budget like our home and business budgets, and cut,” said Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, when I spoke with him earlier. “Caltrans is still ‘greening up the fleet’ and schools have money tucked away for re-roofing. We need to make these cuts.”

The absurdity of California politics is swiftly making the people of the state question the relevance of state legislators. The lack of a budget isn’t helping their reputations.

The California Performance Review, produced at the urging of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is still worthwhile, even if it was shelved (as are most of the valuable reports). Cutting 88 boards and commissions is still sound advice, as are the other 1,200 other recommendations for government reform in California.

California may be a little late to the game, but reform swept the rest of the country in the 2010 elections, ousting 53 members of Congress and four Senators. I get the sense that a broom is also headed our way, and it may not be a moment too soon.

APRIL 7, 2011

3 comments

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  1. larry 62
    larry 62 7 April, 2011, 21:42

    No state budget, no federal budget. Why do we elect politicians if they do NOTHING?

    Reply this comment
  2. Tylerle13
    Tylerle13 7 April, 2011, 22:11

    Larry, we elect them as kind of a wellfare program for the media. If they didnt have these clowns to fill the pages year round, the only things the media would have to report on is natural disasters & sports championships, both of which are in fairly limited supply.

    Reply this comment
  3. David from Oceanside
    David from Oceanside 8 April, 2011, 06:17

    “I get the sense that a broom is also headed our way, and it may not be a moment too soon.”

    What are the odds?

    Reply this comment

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