The big story today is the state budget, which was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger yesterday amid much fanfare. Apparently even wife Maria was on hand to bask in the glow of…the budget. I know, I know, it’s a big deal. It’s just hard to get too excited about a budget that is being heralded not because it is a moral document that truly reflects how we take care of one another in this state, but primarily because it was only three weeks late instead of three months late!
So getting right to it, here’s what you really need to know about this lovely spending plan:
- It doesn’t include the $3 billion for California’s public schools that Schwarzenegger promised it would. Take a look at the 16 Southern California school districts teetering on the verge of financial collapse just to get an idea of the real impact of that broken promise.
- It raises fees – again – on students at our public universities. It also cuts back funding for programs helping the poorest among us to get a fresh start, as well as some services for the elderly. Hm, let’s see, this is starting to sound familiar…students, poor people, seniors…isn’t the budget always balanced on their backs? Yep! Nothing new! I can really see why Schwarzenegger was prompted to proclaim himself a “very happy Governor!”
- You shouldn’t be too angry with the Democrats for succumbing to this plan. If you read Evan Halper’s insightful analysis in the L.A. Times on Sunday, you know that it was all part of a larger strategy to paint the Governor into a corner on the special election. If the Democrats held up the budget for a tax increase, it would have played right into Schwarzenegger’s campaign strategy to pass his evil budget cap initiative, Prop 76.
But could the Governor just accept the budget accomplishment? No. He couldn’t resist pushing his “Live Without Good Schools Initiative,”(here at Speak Out California, we have a strict policy against repeating Orwellian names) and now he’s starting to make the case that Democrats should buy into the idea and come up with a compromise measure. (For the record, we disagree, and we hope Democrats will stand their ground on this one.)
From Ed Mendel’s story in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“We need budget reform to fix our broken system,” said Schwarzenegger. “Let’s keep our momentum going by working together to reform the budget once and for all and build a bright and promising future for our great state.”
Right. Because the problems in our state clearly stem from the fact that teachers get paid too much!
A similarly annoying quote appeared in Alexa Bluth’s piece in the Sacramento Bee:
“No single budget can fix a broken system that is programmed to put our state into a deficit year after year after year,” Schwarzenegger said. “But I am convinced that we can also fix that.”
Yeah, I am convinced too! Raise some revenue! As Jean Ross of the California Budget Project so succinctly summed up Monday in an NPR radio interview with Speak Out California President Hannah-Beth Jackson, “The level of public services we want as Californians costs more to provide than the revenues brought in by our tax system.”
So there you have it. Read his lips: no new taxes. Read the writing on the wall for next year’s budget: another $7.5 billion deficit.